Copper mining firm to explore Ecuador
MELBOURNE, Australia — Broken Hill Proprietary Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, has opened an office and is seeking to add staff in Ecuador as it advances a search for copper in a nation that’s becoming the sector’s exploration hot spot.
The Melbourne-based company’s Ecuadorean unit will spend about $82 million on exploration. Cerro Quebrado — Spanish for “Broken Hill” — has established a base in the capital, Quito, and advertised for workers including a senior geologist. The value of Ecuador’s mining sector could rise to $7.9 billion by 2021 from $1.1 billion this year as major players arrive, according to Fitch Group’s BMI Research.
Broken Hill Proprietary joins Australian competitors including billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Proprietary Ltd., Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. and Newcrest Mining Ltd. in establishing offices or adding exploration licenses in the nation, according to Rodrigo Izurieta, president of Ecuador’s Mining Chamber. The miners are attracted by expectations that the country holds major undiscovered copper and gold deposits, and assurances that newly installed President Lenin Moreno will continue efforts to woo investment, Izurieta said.