SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): Chilean state mining giant Codelco's incoming chief executive Ruben Alvarado has a mammoth task ahead of him: boosting copper output from its lowest level in 25 years, reining in ballooning costs, and spearheading a state push into battery metal lithium.
Alvarado, 64, will start as CEO on Sept. 1 after a search to replace the outgoing Andre Sougarret, who abruptly announced in June he would step down, citing personal reasons and "complexities" running the world's largest copper producer.
Alvarado, a chemical engineer, joined Codelco as a graduate in 1984, but for the last two decades has been managing firms outside mining, including state-owned Santiago subway operator Metro. Those who know him talked up his technical expertise and ability to spot problems others had missed.
"He has an unusual profile as he is technically very good ... but also has a special sensitivity to detect issues most executives don't see," said Louis de Grange, former president of Metro, who worked with Alvarado when he was the general manager there from 2014 to 2022.
Alvarado oversaw the metro's expansion with new lines and managed it through a difficult period in 2019 when there were widespread riots in the capital and some metro stations were set on fire.
That experience running a complex state entity could help him with one of the biggest challenges of Codelco - negotiating the politics of a company that gives most of its profits to the state and is the biggest economic driver in the country.
But he has been away from the mining sector for a long time - and there are major issues to fix.
Codelco has seen production fall sharply in the last few years due to delays in projects to overhaul some of its biggest mines, necessary to counter declining ore grades. There have also been accidents, weather setbacks and other operational issues. Costs and debt have jumped.
Codelco has also recently been tasked with leading Chile's new public-private model to develop battery metal lithium. The country is the world's no. 1 copper and no. 2 lithium producer.
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