Chilean state copper giant Codelco plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to modernize its four smelters: Chuquicamata, Potrerillos, Ventanas and Caletones.

The investment is part of the company's efforts to reduce its environmental impact and comply with new emissions standards, CEO Thomas Keller confirmed Friday during the inauguration of a twin-wheel casting system at the El Teniente mine's Caletones smelter.

The modernization plan will enable Codelco to reduce its annual emissions of sulfur dioxide and arsenic by roughly 100,000 tons and 1,300 tons, respectively.

"The modernization process Codelco is carrying out at all of its smelters is an effort that involves large-scale investments. El Teniente Division is on this path to achieving the environmental, productivity and safety standards of excellence that we want for the entire company," Keller said.

This initiative is a very important first step in a very aggressive and intense investment program in Codelco's smelting business over the next five or six years, he added.

Codelco is the world's largest copper producer. EFE