Toronto-based Falconbridge said the project would supply the growing demand for the mining industry, which produces copper, Chile’s No. 1 export. Falconbridge said the project site would be on land owned by the company in the Rio Cuervo area, which has no scope for cattle breeding or tourism but great hydroelectric potential.

Falconbridge, which merged with Noranda in mid-2005, is one of the world’s leading producers of copper, nickel and zinc. Noranda had originally planned to build three hydroelectric power plants in the Aysen area to supply its Alumysa aluminum plant project. But development was halted after the government, under pressure from salmon farmers and environmental groups, decided against the project.