Although backed by very strong companies, size hasn’t assured smooth operations for Sierra Gorda SCM, which has remained one of the largest copper mining operations in the Antofagasta region of Chile. In fact, the company got off to a precarious start.

“When we were ready to begin operations in 2014, the prices of metals went down sharply. So for us, the first years were very tough,” Miguel Baeza, Sierra Gorda’s vice president and general counsel for corporate affairs and sustainability recalled.

However, the company managed to turn things around in 2017 as it focused on streamlining costs while increasing output, two factors that lay within their control.

“There were other factors that influenced our bottom line: Metal prices and cost of main supplies. So, controlling costs and producing as much concentrate as possible gave us great results. Our new general manager, who brings great operational experience from Poland, surely contributed to this,” Baeza said.

Overseeing the focus on production efficiency, General Manager Miroslaw Kidon pointed out that Sierra Gorda reported record results this year.

According to Baeza, unwavering support from its main shareholders, particularly during the toughest periods, contributed to the success of Sierra Gorda SCM. Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corp. have a 45 percent stake in the mining operations, while the remaining 55 percent is held by KGHM from Poland.