Los Pelambres is a sulphide deposit in Chile’s Coquimbo region, 240 km north-east of Santiago. It produces copper concentrate (containing gold and silver) and molybdenum concentrate through a milling and flotation process.



Los Pelambres finished the year strongly, outperforming both production and cost guidance for the full year and again confirming its position as a stable and reliable operation.

EBITDA at Los Pelambres was $1,428 million in 2018, compared with $1,428 million in 2017, reflecting increased sales volumes and lower operating costs as copper, molybdenum and gold sales volumes increased and the molybdenum price strengthened.


Copper production for the year increased by 4.1% to 357,800 tonnes compared to 2017 due to higher throughput. Molybdenum production in 2018 was 13,300 tonnes, 26.7% higher than in 2017 due to record recoveries and higher grades and throughput.


Cash costs before by-product credits at $1.52/lb were 5.6% higher than in 2017, following the one-off bonus paid after labour negotiations with the plant and mine unions early in the year and with a rise in input prices only partially offset by higher throughput.

Net cash costs for 2018 were $0.91/lb compared with $1.02/lb in 2017 due to significantly higher credits from molybdenum sales.


Phase 1 of the Los Pelambres Expansion Project was approved by the Board in November. Construction of this $1.3 billion project will start at the beginning of 2019 and first production is expected in the second half of 2021. Throughput at the plant will be increased from the current capacity of 175,000 tonnes of ore per day to an average of 190,000 tonnes of ore per day. The project includes a $500 million desalination plant and an additional SAG mill, ball mill and corresponding flotation circuit with six additional cells. The expansion will add an average of 60,000 tonnes of copper a year to the mine’s production over the first 15 years of operation.

Capital expenditure was $255 million, including $54 million on mine development.


Regrettably, during the year a contractor suffered a fatal accident. This is Los Pelambres’ first fatality since September 2014. A full investigation has been completed and changes implemented as a result of the lessons learned.


The forecast production for 2019 is 360–370,000 tonnes of payable copper (slightly higher than in 2018), 9.5–10,500 tonnes of molybdenum and 50–60,000 ounces of gold.

Cash costs before by-product credits for 2019 are forecast to be approximately $1.50/lb and net cash costs around $1.05/lb.