Southern Copper Lays Plans for Expansion to Ecuador

Southern Copper Corp., the largest copper producer in Peru and Mexico, is in talks with Ecuadorean investors to finance an expansion into the South American country, said Luis Echevarria, the company’s legal subdirector.

Southern, based in Phoenix, wants to begin exploration in Ecuador “in the near future,” and is interested in bidding in Ecuador’s next round of mining concessions, Echevarria said today in an interview in Quito. The company is seeking a minority stakeholder to invest in the project and expects to close a deal in “a couple of months,” he said.

Ecuador’s government will open bidding for new mining concessions in a “few weeks,” the first since a law was passed in 2009 giving the state greater control over the Andean country’s mineral resources, Vice Minister of Mining Federico Auquilla said today at a conference in Quito.

“We are working in Chile, Argentina and Peru, and due to our vicinity to Ecuador, it’s a good idea,” Echevarria said. “Ecuador has recently opened its mining activities to foreign investors, so we can take a chance on that.”