LONDON (ShareCast) - Xstrata Copper has completed construction on its Lomas Bayas operation in northern Chile, the company announced Friday.
The mining giant said it had started commissioning its $300m Lomas II project to extend the mine life by 16 years to 2028 at production levels of 75,000 tonnes of copper cathodes per annum.
The operation included the development of Fortuna de Cobre open pit - located three kilometres from the operation's original mine and infrastructure - and the construction of a new primary crusher, conveyor transport system and new heap and run-of-mine leach pads.
More than 4,500 people were employed during the construction. Xstrata (Other OTC: XSRAF - news) will add 50 permanent positions to work on the operation, adding to the existing Lomas Bayas workforce of 1,850.
Xstrata Copper Chief Executive Charlie Sartain said: "I am delighted that we have been able to successfully complete this project to extend the life of Lomas Bayas, one of the world's lowest grade mining operations. The Lomas II project team has achieved this with a commendable safety performance, recording only one lost time injury in over 3.7m man hours and a total recordable injury frequency rate of 1.07 per million hours worked.
"Through the Lomas Bayas operation, we will continue to make a significant contribution to local communities, the Antofagasta Region and the country with continued regional employment, investment in social projects and partnerships, opportunities for local suppliers and enterprise development and fiscal payments to government.
"This is a great achievement by the Lomas Bayas team and wraps up a remarkable year for Xstrata Copper in which we have commissioned four major projects on schedule and in line with budget, establishing a solid platform for strong long term production and significant production growth from our operations in 2013."
The news comes after Xstrata Copper's parent company Xstrata plc announced it was lifting ore production at its Lady Loretta mine in Queensland, Australia.
Xstrata plc is a FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) company with a market capitalisation of £31,183m. Shares fell 1.53% to 1,027.00p at 10:59 Friday.