Teck Resources held an inauguration ceremony last Friday to celebrate the recent start of operations at its new Carmen de Andacollo copper concentrator. It reached commercial production in October 2010 and has extended mine life by about 20 years, increased production capacity and created approximately 350 new jobs. The cost was approximately $440 million and the mine’s production for 2011 is expected to be approximately 65,000 t of copper in concentrate. In addition, 2011 production of copper cathode is expected to be some 7,000 t. Work is ongoing to optimise the mill circuit of the new plant to increase throughput.
“Carmen de Andacollo is a very important part of Teck,” said Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck. “This has been a very special day for the entire Teck team and this inauguration is the culmination of the efforts of hundreds of individuals over many years. It is a testimony to the outstanding contributions of our valued employees, who have worked in partnership with contractors, suppliers and government officials to make this project a success.”
Mines and Energy Minister Laurence Golborne and other government officials attended the event along with business partners, suppliers, community members, employees and other distinguished guests.
The development and construction of the current expansion at Carmen de Andacollo was approved in August 2006 and construction of the mine’s copper concentrator project was completed in late 2009, followed by commissioning and first production in February 2010. In October 2010, the mine achieved commercial production.
Teck is also examining the feasibility of adding an additional SAG mill, ball mill, and other associated plant and equipment aimed at increasing annual production at Carmen de Andacollo to approximately 100,000 to 120,000 t of copper in concentrate. The study will include drilling to confirm additional ore reserves and will address key issues including permitting requirements. The study is expected to be complete by the end of the fourth quarter of 2011.
“As we work to optimise the new concentrator we will look at ways to increase production even further at Carmen de Andacollo with the goal of adding new production and jobs to the mine,” said Lindsay. “There is potential to convert resources to reserves and the study will determine the feasibility of expansion from a technical, economic and permitting perspective.”
Teck is also actively engaged in various projects to expand capacity and increase the working lives of our major copper mines and to develop new copper projects. In Chile, Teck is undertaking a feasibility study, expected to be complete in early 2012, to expand its Quebrada Blanca mine by developing production from the hypogene resource that underlies the supergene deposit. Production is expected to be some 200,000 t/y of copper contained in concentrate plus approximately 5,100 t/y of molybdenum in concentrate over an estimated mine life of approximately 30 years. Assuming a positive feasibility study and a decision to undertake project development, production from the concentrator could commence in 2016.
Also in Chile, the undeveloped greenfields deposit at Relincho is under study and has the potential to become a major copper-producing asset. The prefeasibility study is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2011. Relincho has the potential to produce approximately 190,000 t/y of copper in concentrate and 7,000 t/y of molybdenum in concentrate over an estimated mine life of over 20 years.
Carmen de Andacollo is an open-pit mining operation located in central Chile, adjacent to the town of Andacollo, approximately 55 km southeast of La Serena and 350 km north of Santiago. Teck has a 90% interest in the mine, with ENAMI holding the remaining 10%. The operation now produces copper in concentrates from the hypogene portion of the orebody and is winding down its copper cathode production from the supergene portion of the orebody. Carmen de Andacollo is one of two mines Teck currently operates in Chile. The second mine, Quebrada Blanca, is located in the Tarapaca region. Together, these mines produce more than 150,000 t/y of copper and employ over 1,500 people in these regions of the country.