SHANGHAI, Jul 22 (SMM) – Mirador copper mine in southern Ecuador, owned by a Chinese consortium led by Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group, went into operation on July 18, according to a reported by Xinhuanet.com.
The project is expected to process 20 million mt of copper ore and produce 96,000 mt of copper in a year.
Tongling Nonferrous and China Railway Construction Corp jointly launched the project, which is the first large-scale mine project and biggest open-pit copper mine in this South American country.
The first batch of shipments from the mine to China are expected at the end of August, which is likely to ease cost pressure on Chinese smelters.
SMM assessments showed that treatment charges for spot, clean copper concentrate stood at $54-58/mt as of Friday July 19, down from an average of $92/mt at the start of the year. This has exerted heavy pressure on Chinese smelters, especially those small ones. A spike in smelting capacity in China primarily accounted for the sharp decline in TCs this year.
Supply troubles also weighed on copper concentrate TCs, as developments at mines in major producing countries such as Chile and Zambia lowered output.
The start of Mirador copper mine is set to help bolster supply, but is unlikely to boost TCs, given the scale of its output.
China’s top copper smelters last week set their floor TCs for the third quarter of 2019 in the mid-$50s/mt, pointing to market recognition of low TCs.