Chile’s Pampa Camarones copper mine is up for sale

Chile’s Pampa Camarones copper mine is up for saleThee open-pit mining of the Salamaqueja mine considers deepening the current pit of the Pampa Camarones mining project. (Image courtesy of Pampa Camarones.)

Chilean private equity fund Minería Activa has put up for sale its Pampa Camarones copper mine in the country’s far north amid an ongoing copper price rally that saw the bellwether metal passing US$10,000 a tonne this week for the first time since 2011.

The firm, which acquired the operation in 2016 after its previous owners declared it bankrupt, made the decision to sell it earlier this year, receiving expressions of interest from a dozen of firms from Chile, the US, Asia and Oceania. 

Minería Activa has not disclosed the value of the asset, but MINING.COM understands that the company expects at least US$50 million. It’s also known that the firm has already selected a handful of potential buyers, most of them without operations in the copper-rich country.

Sources familiar with the process told MINING.COM that the decision to sell Pampa Camarones was independent of the current copper price’s spike, adding the firm expects to close the sale later this year. 

“Minería Activa bought the mine with the purpose of adding value to it and put it back in operations; now it’s ready to sell it,” sources who requested anonymity said. .

South Korea’s Samsung made its debut in Chile’s mining sector in 2011 with the acquisition and development of Pampa Camarones open-pit mine in the country’s northern Arica-Parinacota region.

The mine operated at a loss for two years until the company decided to shelve it and sell it Minería Activa.

The mine was reactivated in 2019, after Mitsui & Co invested US$10 million, becoming the only copper operation in Chile’s northernmost region.

Last year the mine produced 8,400 tonnes of copper cathode, all of which were sent to Mitsui under the offtake agreement. 

The company has also kicked off studies to expand the mine both deepening the current pit and extending the underground section. Those plans would allow to triple current output.

About 80% of the mine workers are locals, with a high and increasing number of women. The operation uses mostly sea water and solar power.


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