(Bloomberg) -- Chile’s state-owned copper producer Codelco named Octavio Araneda as chief executive officer, following the departure of Nelson Pizarro.

Pizarro handed in his resignation on Friday during a board meeting at the company’s headquarters in Santiago, Codelco said in a statement. Araneda, who was most recently vice-president of operations at the company’s central and southern division, was chosen unanimously by the board. The leadership change will be effective Sept. 1.

“Araneda is a continuation of Pizarro and he will bring in his own things,” Juan Benavides, Codelco chairman, told journalists. “There is quite a lot of space for more efficiency, cost cutting and productivity increases at Codelco.”

Pizarro, a 78-year-old industry veteran, had signaled he might leave the company after the inauguration of the $5.5 billion transformation of the giant Chuquicamata open pit mine into an underground operation. Araneda will be in charge of continuing Pizarro’s cost-cutting efforts to secure the billions of dollars in funding the company needs to upgrade its aging mines and maintain copper production.

Next on Codelco’s pipeline of large projects is a new level at El Teniente, the company’s largest mine, which fell under Araneda’s mandate in his previous role.

(Updates with comments from chairman Juan Benavides)

--With assistance from Maria Jose Campano.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Millan Lombrana in Santiago at lmillan4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at ljavier@bloomberg.net, Philip Sanders, Eduardo Thomson

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