June 5 (Reuters) - London-listed Antofagasta on Wednesday signed a $1.5 billion investment for a water transportation system with a firm owned by Madrid-based Almar Water Solutions and Chile-based power transmission company Transelec for its Centinela mining operation in Chile.

In 2022, Chile's SMA environmental regulator filed two charges against the Centinela copper deposit due to its impact on a water source and local wildlife.


Analysts have forecast a deficit of the red metal from this year as Panama ordered the closure of First Quantum's mine and other producers like Anglo American and Vale Base Metals both cut their supply estimates for 2024 and 2025.

Copper demand is expected to grow steadily in the coming years, yet recent price jumps appear to be driven in part by speculative activity.


Chile, where Antofagasta's operations are based, has suffered a 15-year drought, sucking water from reservoirs and sparking concern over the fresh water supply.

Additionally, miners and countries are looking to increase and reopen production of copper from mines amid a bullish outlook.


The World Resources Institute said nearly 16% of the world's land-based critical mineral mines and districts are located in areas facing high or extremely high levels of water stress.

The project at Centinela in Chile includes the construction of two 144 km-long (89.48 miles) water pipelines that transports seawater to its ports and facilitates the expansion of the mine.

The expansion at Centinela would boost annual copper output from the Centinela mine by 140,000 tons, making it one of the world's top 15 such mines by output. (Reporting by Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)