SANTIAGO, July 6 (Reuters) - Codelco, the world's No. 1 copper producer, aims to reach a deal to solve a dispute with global miner Anglo American Plc before the companies' negotiation window closes on July 17th, Chairman Gerardo Jofre said on Friday.
When asked by Reuters whether the mining companies were inclined to extend a self-imposed deadline for the talks for a second time, Jofre told reporters "No ... We're trying to do it within the given time frame."
The mining firms appear poised to clinch a deal to solve their multibillion-dollar, three-continental dispute over Anglo's south-central Chilean copper assets. They announced on May 22 they had asked for a suspension of their legal fight.
The companies have maintained a strict silence around the confidential talks, but the alternative floated most commonly in the industry involves state-owned Codelco buying 24.5 percent of the assets and receiving some sort of compensation.
Anglo's head of copper John MacKenzie declined to comment on the talks.
He, Jofre and other mining executives were attending a ceremony at the presidential palace to launch the first blasting operations to transform Codelco's century-old Chuquicamata copper mine into an underground operation.
The dispute between Codelco and Anglo centers on an option agreement dating to 1978.
Codelco said in October it would exercise the option to buy a 49 percent stake in Anglo American Sur (AAS) when the option window opened in January.
But weeks later, Anglo surprised everyone with the pre-emptive sale of a 24.5 percent stake in AAS to Mitsubishi Corp, in a $5.4 billion deal that dented Codelco's ambitions but which it said secured better value for investors.
Since then, the companies have been tussling for the properties, which include Los Bronces, a promising mine that used to be called La Disputada, "the disputed one," in Spanish.
A slice of the prized properties would be a major boost for Codelco, which faces stubbornly dwindling ore grades in its tired deposits as it seeks to boost its annual output to 2.1 million tonnes by 2020.
Anglo's shares closed down 2.73 percent on Friday, outpacing a 2.19 percent fall on the broader FTSE 350 mining index.