50% OWNED Joint Venture

Zaldívar is an open-pit, heap-leach copper mine which produces copper cathodes using the solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX-EW) process. The mine is 3,000 metres above sea level, approximately 1,400 km north of Santiago and 175 km south-east of the city of Antofagasta.

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Operating performance

During the year, a range of operational initiatives continued to be implemented, in light of the operational challenges faced in 2022, with an improvement in copper recoveries seen during 2023 as a result. The Company’s operating teams are implementing an operational improvement programme aimed at increasing productivity and throughput rates at Zaldívar, given throughput levels were lower than expected in 2023, which are expected to lower cash costs over time. Attributable EBITDA1 was $87 million compared with $147 million in 2022.


Attributable copper production for the year was 40,500 tonnes, 9% lower than in 2022 mainly due to lower ore processing rates, which were partially mitigated by improved recoveries during the year.

Cash costs

Cash costs for the full year were $2.95/lb, 23% higher than the previous year’s costs due to lower production, local inflation, increased costs for maintenance and utilisation of stocks from the prior period.

Capital expenditure

Attributable capital expenditure in 2023 was $46 million, of which $34 million was sustaining capital expenditure.


1. Attributable EBITDA reflects the Company’s 50% ownership

Attributable copper production is forecast to be 35–40,000 tonnes at a cash cost of approximately $2.95/lb.

Other matters

In June 2023, Zaldívar submitted an EIA application to extend its mining and water environmental permits through to 2051. This includes a proposal to develop the primary sulphide ore deposit and extend the current life-of-mine at an estimated investment over the mine life of $1.2 billion. It also includes a plan to change the mine’s water source from the local aquifer to either sea water or water provided by third parties. This is proposed to follow a transition period during which the current continental water extraction permit is extended from 2025 to 2028.

In early 2024, approval was received from the authorities for the separate DIA (Declaration of Environmental Impact) to extend the mining permit and, therefore, align the water and mining permits at Zaldívar. This approval ensures that this operation has rights to mine ore and extract water until 2025. The mine life after 2025 is, therefore, subject to the approval of the EIA.

Zaldívar’s final pit phase, which represents approximately 20% of current ore reserves, impacts a portion of Minera Escondida’s mine property, as well as infrastructure owned by third parties. Mining of the phase will be subject to agreements or easements to access these areas and relocate the infrastructure, and related permits. In 2023, Zaldívar reached an agreement with Escondida in respect to mining matters and certain cost sharing. The current mine plan assumes that the additional necessary agreements, easements and permits will be obtained to allow the mining of the final pit phase.