Thursday, April 8, 2010

Freeport McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) El Abra Mine Investment

Freeport McMoRan and Codelco El Abra Mine

After discovering more copper at its El Abra mine in Chile, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE:FCX) is thinking about sinking some serious money into expanding exploration of the mine.

As the resources discovered by Freeport and partner Codelco is significant, so would the exploration investment.

Overall, Freeport is looking to invest about $100 million this year across its various properties in search of gold and copper.

For the El Abra mine, Freeport has controlling interest, owning 51 percent of the project, while Codelco holds the other 49 percent. Codelco is the No. 1 copper producer in the world and Freeport is the second-largest.

Even though copper is plentiful, Freeport and others are taking a cautious approach because of the uncertainty connected to developed markets, which are still mired in deep economic turmoil, while China demand is still strong.

The strength of Chinese demand is obvious, but the problem is they're the only country that can be counted on now, and if anything major happens there, it could have a major impact on copper demand and prices.

Consequently, Freeport is taking a slower move toward increasing copper production because of that, and seems to be looking toward exploration in preparation for when the developed economies return to health.

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