June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Southern Copper Corp., which won control this week over its largest mine in Mexico after a three- year strike, expects to reach full production capacity next year, Chief Executive Officer Oscar Gonzalez Rocha said today.
The company plans to invest at least $50 million and will take as many as six months to restart the mine, shut periodically since July 2007, Gonzalez said in an interview on the sidelines of the Bloomberg Peru Economic Summit in Lima.
"Police have entered the mine, enabling us to restart our investment plan," Gonzalez said today. "Next year will be a normal full year for production."
Union workers at Cananea, the world's largest deposit of copper, were striking on and off for about three years. Union members threatened to blow up the mine in February when the workers' organization lost a legal appeal that allowed parent company Grupo Mexico to fire striking workers.
Southern Copper, which operates mines in Peru and Mexico, produced a total 700,000 tons of copper annually when Cananea was operating, according to the company's website. The company said April 29 it may invest $3.8 billion in Cananea to more than double annual copper output at the mine to 460,000 tons.
Rocha said he expects rising demand will boost copper prices to about $3 a pound by year's end, up 5 percent from $2.85 a pound today on the Comex in New York.
Copper has dropped more than 20 percent over the past two months on concern Greece's fiscal crisis may spread to other European countries and China may seek to restrain growth. On June 7, prices touched $2.72, the lowest level since Oct. 5.
Antofagasta Plc, the copper producer controlled by Chile's Luksic family, expects prices for the metal this year will average about $3.30 a pound, Chairman Jean-Paul Luksic said earlier today in London.
Southern Copper rose 1.69 percent to $28.36 at 3:50 p.m. at in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has risen 20 percent over the past year.