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Chile leaves Codelco to fund own US$20B investment program

Codelco is left to fund a US$20 billion program to boost copper output on its own, or else see its production slump as copper grades decline, Bloomberg News reported Jan. 6.

Chile's Finance Minister Ignacio Briones said that the government has no plan for capital injection into the state miner, which is already weighed down by US$19.4 billion of debt, as the country aims to spend US$3 billion this year to support the economy and help counteract the impact of more than two months of social unrest that began in October 2019.

"We're not talking about a capital injection," Briones was quoted as saying in the newswire's report. "The state has always supported Codelco in such a way that it can access financing via capitalization or international markets."

Chairman Juan Benavides claimed in April 2019 that Codelco is "perfectly well financed" over the next two years in the midst of a planned 10-year, US$40 billion overhaul of its aging copper operations.

However, the miner secured US$480 million in debt in August 2019 and issued US$2 billion in bonds in September 2019 to fund their overhaul plans, contrary to Benavides' statement, in which he said he does not expect the company to issue any additional bonds within 2019.