By Shihoko Goto — Exclusive to Copper Investing News
Benchmark COMEX copper for May delivery was up 0.22 percent at $3.79 a pound on Thursday afternoon trading.Company news The world's third-largest copper mine, the Collahuasi mine in Chile, is expected to increase its output this year compared to what it was a year ago. Owned jointly by Anglo American (LSE: AAL) and Xstrata (LSE: XTA), the mine produces about three percent of the world's total copper output, and produced 453,000 tonnes in 2011. Collahuasi is looking to increase its annual output to between 800,000 and 1,000,000 tonnes a year from 2017. The mine's environmental impact study to outline its expansion plans will be ready by May. Miners at Freeport-McMoRan's (NYSE: FCX) Indonesian Grasberg mine will be going back to work on March 12 after on-site violence halted operations about two weeks ago. Operations will gradually return to normal and the company should be able to recover lost output in four months, said Virgo Solossa, head of organizational affairs at PT Freeport Indonesia's labor union. Meanwhile, the Indonesian government said that it will prevent foreign companies from owning more than a 49 percent stake in some mines. Non-Indonesian mining license holders will need to reduce their shareholding to below 49 percent from the current 80 percent limit within the next decade. Junior company news Malbex Resources (TSXV: MBG) acquired two copper- gold projects in Argentina. Both the Quebrada Seca and Chalchalero projects can be explored year-round, even when the company's flagship Del Carmen gold- silver project is inactive during the Andean winter months. "Our team of experienced Argentinean geologists has been reviewing projects across Argentina for the past 16 months, and we are pleased that their work is now bearing fruit," stated President and CEO Tim Warman. "The Del Carmen project remains our key project, but with only a seven month exploration season in the Andes, it is critical to Malbex's future success to deliver a continuous stream of exploration results on a year-round basis. We intend to begin working on these projects and our new gold project in Peru shortly after the Del Carmen project winds down for the winter in late April."