SAN FRANCISCO June 29 (Reuters) - Fluor Corp (FLR.N) has won a $1.3 billion contract for work on a new copper mine in central Chile, adding to a growing backlog of mining projects for the largest publicly traded U.S. engineering company.
Fluor said on Tuesday it would handle the engineering and construction on the new Caserones copper mine for Minera Lumina Copper Chile, which is backed by Pan Pacific Copper Co Ltd and Mitsui & Co Ltd (8031.T).
"South America, and Chile in particular, continues to be a robust market for our company in the mining sector," Dwayne Wilson, Fluor's group president for industrial business, said in a statement.
The $1.3 billion will be added to Fluor's backlog for the second quarter, which it said last month could top $30 billion after falling to $25.7 billion at the end of the first quarter, as new awards could exceed its single-quarter record of $8.8 billion.
Fluor has said that the profitability of this bigger backlog would be relatively weaker because mining work tends to yield a lower margin than oil and gas projects.
Work on the Caserones projects will be done at 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level, and the project has a marketable output of 3.6 million tons of fine copper and 87 kilotons of molybdenum, Fluor said.
When Minera Lumina signed off on the plans in February, with copper prices CMCU3 having more than doubled from a year before, the project was due to be completed by 2013, according to a statement on Mitsui's website.
Pan Pacific is 66 percent owned by Nippon Mining & Metals, part of Nippon Mining Holdings Inc 5016.T, while the remainder is held by Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co Ltd (5706.T).
Shares of Irving, Texas-based Fluor were down 3 percent on Tuesday, in line with the sector as crude oil prices tumbled.