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Codelco Begins Talks With Ecuador Over Junin Copper Deposit

Chile’s Codelco, the world’s biggest copper producer, is in talks with Ecuador to jointly develop the Junin copper deposit, Chairman Gerardo Jofre said today.

“We are at the beginning of talks with them,” Jofre said during a visit with Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa to Codelco’s Gaby copper mine in northern Chile. Codelco has spent $4 million on exploration targets in Ecuador and plans to invest between $10 million and $30 million in exploration over the next four years, the company said in a statement today.

Jofre and Chile’s Mining Minister Hernan de Solminihac gave Correa a tour of the Gaby mine as the Ecuadorean leader seeks to build support at home for his country’s nascent mining industry. The Junin deposit in northern Ecuador contains enough copper and molybdenum to rival the biggest mines in Chile and Peru, according to Ecuador’s Mining Chamber.

Ecuador seeks “socially and environmentally responsible” mining investment, Correa said in a speech at the mine today. The Andean country has “lost too much time” tapping its mineral resources and can use profits from the sale of metals to alleviate poverty, he said.

A deal with Ecuador’s state mining company Enami would give Codelco access to its first large-scale copper deposit outside Chile. Codelco spent about a decade exploring in northern Brazil and Mexico.

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