Tag Archives: Antofagasta

Antofagasta responds to environmental concerns with new Los Pelambres copper mine plan

Antofagasta Minerals is preparing to submit an investment proposal for its Los Pelambres mine in Chile that could see it stop using water from the Choapa River and nearby wells, and to use mainly seawater from 2025.

In this way, MLP will be able to guarantee the availability of water for its operations and advance its studies into extending its operations beyond 2035, when its current environmental permits expire, it said.

The submission to the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA) also considers Minera Los Pelambres (MLP), the operating entity, building a new concentrate transportation system with modern control systems, routed away from the most populated areas. This will allow maintenance to be carried out without interfering with the daily life of the surrounding communities.

The 60%-owned mine produced 363,400 t of copper in 2019, alongside 11,200 t of molybdenum and 59,700 oz of gold.

Iván Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta Minerals, said: “We are going to invest in works that allow us to adapt our operation to the changes that have occurred in the Choapa province and the region over the last 20 years as a result of the prolonged drought caused by climate change and the increase in its population and productive activity.

“This is a key step in the future of Los Pelambres.”

Arriagada added: “We have a long-term strategic vision to extend the life of the operations while ensuring its continued coexistence with other productive activities in the province of Choapa. We are particularly interested in taking care of natural resources that are scarce today, such as water, and continuing to reduce our potential impact on the environment.”

This new stage of the company’s development, called Los Pelambres Futuro, also includes the contribution of the Los Pelambres Expansion project, which was 36% complete as at the end of June. A significant part of the work on the project was stopped as a result of COVID-19 and construction is now restarting in stages.

“We want to make minor adjustments to the design of the expansion project, which is already under construction, to facilitate the future expansion of the desalination plant,” Arriagada said. “In this way, there we will be less impact on the environment.”

It is estimated that the Operational Adaptation Investment (OAI) will be submitted to the SEIA in the first half of 2021. Its execution could begin in 2023, creating up to 2,000 jobs.

The OAI includes the expansion of the 400 litre/s desalination plant, currently being built in Punta Chungo, and the industrial quality desalinated water supply system, to 800 litres/s.

Mauricio Larraín, General Manager of MLP, said: “If our investment proposal is approved, in the coming years we could stop extracting water from the Choapa River and nearby wells, and more than 95% of the water used by Los Pelambres will either come from the sea or will be recirculated water.”

This plan could see MLP become the first mining company in the central zone of Chile to operate predominantly with seawater.

“The decision to use desalinated water is an idea that arose from dialogue with nearby communities and authorities and seemed to us to be the best way that we could contribute to easing the water scarcity challenges in this part of the country that affects us all,” Larraín said.

The company, which currently has environmental permits to extract water from the Choapa River until 2035, has worked for years with its neighbours and the authorities on the water management of the Choapa Valley. This work will continue in the future with the objective of promoting the sustainable use of the available water and strengthening the Rural Drinking Water systems for human consumption, the company said.

Lastly, the Environmental Impact Study will include some continuity and maintenance works for the tailings system. These works are already included in the Environmental Qualification Resolution (RCA) 38/2004 and consist of works on the north and south contour channels, repositioning pipes and other works.

Arriagada concluded: “This set of initiatives will require very significant investment in the province of Choapa over the next 10 years, close to $1 billion, and will also generate a significant number of jobs. It will also contribute towards helping the region and the country overcome the social and economic crisis generated by COVID-19 as soon as possible.”

Thiess to carry out load and haul services at Mantos Blancos copper mine

CIMIC’s global mining services provider, Thiess, is to undertake load and haul services for Mantos Copper SA at the Mantos Blancos copper mine, in northern Chile, following a mining services contract award.

The contract will see the company carry out not only load and haul services, but also fleet maintenance. The contractor will move low-grade copper ore at the operation, which produces around 50,000 t/y of fine copper.

Thiess Managing Director, Douglas Thompson, said this latest contract demonstrates the company’s ability to apply global insight and experience into “furthering local value and deliver productivity and efficiencies for our clients”.

He added: “Mantos Copper SA is an important contributor to the mining industry in the Antofagasta region and we are proud to be of service.”

Thiess’ Executive General Manager Americas, Darrell White, said: “For the past five years we have delivered safe and efficient operations in Chile in line with our vision to be the world’s leading mining services provider. We value collaboration and engagement and look forward to growing our relationship with Mantos Copper SA.”

Almar to provide water treatment services to Mantos Copper in northern Chile

Almar Water Solutions has been awarded a new operation and maintenance contract from Mantos Copper and its Mantos Blancos copper operation in northern Chile.

As part of the agreement, Almar Water Solutions, part of Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, through Osmoflo SpA, will operate the water treatment plant for Mantos Blancos.

This new three-year contract will include 24/7 service provided by experienced professionals who will transfer to the client’s facilities in the Antofagasta region, thus promoting local job creation, Almar said. It will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of a reverse-osmosis process-water plant, which will produce quality water to be used to carry out the mining activity at Mantos Blancos, according to the company.

The Mantos Blancos project is a mining complex located in Region II, 45 km northeast of the city of Antofagasta, at an elevation of 800 m above sea level. It comprises an open-pit mine, crushing plants and installations for processing oxidised and sulphide ores.

Gonzalo Gómez-Rodulfo, Services Manager at Almar Water Solutions, after the signing of the contract, said: “This new project strengthens the services area of Almar Water Solutions and will help Mantos Blancos to guarantee the operational excellence of its water infrastructure, enabling it to optimise costs and increase its annual copper production.”

The company added: “After the acquisition of Osmoflo SpA in 2019, Almar Water Solutions has become a new ally in the operation and maintenance of water treatment plants, offering optimum and efficient performance of the assets, using state-of-the-art management systems and computerised models.

“With this new project, Almar Water Solutions now has a portfolio with multiple operation and maintenance projects, especially in the Latin American region, which presents special conditions in terms of its geography and the distribution of water resources.”

Renewable power on its way to Antofagasta’s Centinela mine

Antofagasta has signed a new power purchase agreement (PPA) with ENGIE Energía Chile SA that will see 100% of the power supplied to its Centinela copper operation, in Chile, come from renewable sources.

The contract, from 2022 until 2033, will replace two existing PPAs Antofagasta had in place that expire in 2026 and 2027. It will also see the company sell its indirect 40% interest in the Hornitos thermal power station to ENGIE, resulting in an attributable post-tax write down of some $43 million, it said.

After the write down, this new renewable energy contract will be value accretive as power costs will be significantly reduced in stages from 2020 onwards, Antofagasta noted.

Antofagasta’s CEO, Iván Arriagada, said: “With the completion of this agreement, from 2022, all our mining division’s power will be from renewable sources, and at a lower cost as well. This is an important step in achieving our target to reduce our carbon emissions by 300,000 t by 2022.”

Wenco fleet management solution to monitor, control production at Antofagasta’s Centinela

Thiess has chosen the Wenco Mine Performance Suite to run its operations at Antofagasta’s Centinela copper mine in northern Chile.

Centinela sits 1,350 km north of Santiago in the Antofagasta Region of Chile. Antofagasta Minerals has contracted Thiess, the world’s largest mining contractor, to develop the Encuentro Oxides pit, which will contribute to the mine’s production of 50,000 t/y of copper cathode for a planned lifespan of 15 years.

To monitor and control this production, Thiess is leveraging the Wencomine fleet management system. The system will optimise productivity and efficiency across the pit’s 56 active units, including 12 high-precision loading units and five high-precision drill rigs, according to Wenco.

Wenco’s data solutions are designed to boost productivity, decrease operating costs, extend equipment life, and give mining companies actionable insights into their operations. Its Mine Performance Suite consists of systems for fleet management, high-precision machine guidance, predictive maintenance, collision avoidance, and mining business intelligence.

Unlike other solution providers, Wenco, a Hitachi Group Company since 2009, has designed its systems with an “open systems philosophy” that, it says, “empowers customers to freely integrate systems to support their unique business processes, data requirements, and reporting needs”.

Thiess chose Wenco for its reputation in delivering strong production functionality and a streamlined implementation process with minimal impact on day-to-day mine operations, it said.

Wenco said: “Expanding the business relationship with Thiess in South America is strategically important for Wenco as well. Contractor-operated sites are common throughout the region and they stand as a significant growth market for the company. Likewise, contractor partnerships form a key part of the open and interoperable ecosystem of partners pushed by Wenco and its parent company, Hitachi Construction Machinery.”

Wenco Regional Manager — Latin America, José Eugenio Saravia, said: “We’re very pleased to implement the Wenco Mine Performance Suite at the Encuentro Oxides development.

“Wenco has worked with Thiess at various mining developments around the world and our solutions are ideal for the productivity improvements and ease of deployment they require. We’re looking forward to a long and profitable business together.”

This sale is another boon to Wenco in the region, following recent sales to Chinchillas and Pucamarca mines and a new partnership with Brazil mining solutions provider Tecwise.

“Contractors like Thiess are a major growth area for Wenco and the industry as a whole. We’re seeing a great many more opportunities of this sort throughout Latin America,” Saravia says.

“As well, we’re seeing more and more customers excited to partner with a Hitachi-owned company like Wenco, who can deliver the reliability and support only available from a major OEM and global mining leader.”

Metal and mining companies collaborate with WEF on blockchain solutions

Seven leading mining and metals companies have partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to experiment, design and deploy blockchain solutions that will accelerate responsible sourcing and sustainability practices, the WEF reports.

The Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative will pool resources and cost, increase speed-to-market and improve industry-wide trust that cannot be achieved by acting individually, according to the forum.

“It aims to be a neutral enabler for the industry, addressing the lack of standardisation and improving efficiency,” WEF said, adding that the intention was to send out a signal of inclusivity and collaboration across the industry.

Among the seven companies represented in this initiative are Antofagasta Minerals, Eurasian Resources Group, Glencore, Tata Steel Limited, De Beers and Anglo American.

The group will look to develop joint proof-of-concepts for an inclusive blockchain platform, which, over time, could help the industry collectively increase “transparency, efficiency or improve reporting of carbon emissions”, it said.

The WEF explained: “In many cases, blockchain projects to support responsible sourcing have been bilateral. The result has been a fractured system that leaves behind parts of the ecosystem and lacks interoperability.”

The new initiative is owned and driven by the industry, for the industry, according to the WEF, with members examining issues related to governance, developing case studies and establishing a working group. Key areas of collaboration and development could include carbon emissions tracking and supply chain transparency.

“They will work to use blockchain technology to increase trust between upstream and downstream partners, to address the lack of industry standardisation and to track provenance, chain of custody and production methods,” it said.

Jörgen Sandström, Head of the Mining and Metals Industry at the WEF, said material value chains are undergoing profound change and disruption. “The industry needs to respond to the increasing demands of minerals and materials while responding to increasing demands by consumers, shareholders and regulators for a higher degree of sustainability and traceability of the products.”

The WEF has offered its platform and expertise to help industry leaders better understand the impact and potential of blockchain technology, it said. “It will provide guidance on governance issues related to the delivery of a neutral industry platform and the expansion of members.”

The move was welcomed by industry partners, including Ivan Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta Minerals: “We hope this collaboration and pilot will give us practical examples of how blockchain can increase efficiency of the supply chain management and improve interoperability; address certain supply chain management risks such as transparency and consumer trust; and unlock opportunities including integration of key data such on environmental impact such carbon emissions.”

Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group, meanwhile, said the collaboration around blockchain technology would help industry efforts to enhance responsible sourcing. “By working together, our goal is to develop solutions that can be adopted across the industry and value chain,” he added.

Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, said the development of this technology can facilitate industry reporting to improve compliance across the supply chain.

TV Narendran, CEO of Tata Steel, said: “As a responsible player in the mining and metals industry, we are committed to build a sustainable future.”

Jim Duffy, CEO of Tracr (representing Anglo American/De Beers), said the company looked forward to collaborating with the consortium as Tracr begins to roll-out its connected supply chain platform for the diamond industry. “Lessons learned creating Tracr are highly relevant to the sustainable sourcing of all mining and metals,” he added.

Twin Metals looks to avoid tailings dam concerns with dry stacking plan

The developer of the Twin Metals project, in the Iron Range region of northeast Minnesota, USA, has announced plans to use dry stacked tailings at the underground copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold and silver asset as the company looks to eliminate the perceived risk of a dam leakage or failure.

Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM), a company owned by Antofagasta, said the dry stack method eliminates the storage pond and dam associated with conventional tailings facilities and has been successfully used in four mines in the northern US and Canada with similar climates to Minnesota.

In 2018, an update of the prefeasibility study for Twin Metals outlined a 18,000 t/d ore project, producing an average of 42,000 t/y of copper, plus nickel and platinum group metals as by-products, the equivalent of some 65,000 t/y of copper.

TMM, like many other potential mine developers, said community concerns about copper-nickel mines have focused on fears of tailings dam failure or leaks that could threaten both nearby surface water and groundwater. This comes after several high profile dam failures in North and South America.

If all goes to plan, the company will use the dry stack method to store the leftover rock from its proposed underground mine on a lined ground facility near the plant site. This will allow reclamation of the tailing site to occur in stages, with the site capped or covered with natural vegetation.

Kelly Osborne, Chief Executive Officer of Twin Metals Minnesota, said: “Dry stack tailing storage is the most environmentally friendly tailings management approach for our site. The first key is that there’s no dam, no risk of dam failure. The moisture content of the filtered tailings is reduced to a material that we can compact and manage seasonally.

“Because there’s no risk of a dam failure, dry stack is considered the best available technology for tailings storage and, after a decade of study and consultation with concerned voices in our community, we determined that it will be an effective choice for our project.”

Equally important, TMM said, is the fact that the tailings from the Maturi deposit at Twin Metals will be non-acid-generating.

“The common concern about sulphides points to a basic misconception about our project,” Osborne said. “The geology of the Maturi deposit provides us with confidence that we can mine here safely and sustainably. The rock sandwiching the layer of copper, nickel and platinum group minerals in the deposit is almost completely free of sulphides. When the targeted minerals are removed during the concentration process and shipped to customers, only a minute amount of sulphides will remain in the tailings.”

Extensive testing over the past decade shows that Maturi deposit tailings will be non-acid-generating, the company clarified.

Dry stack tailings storage has been an option under consideration since Twin Metals began mine planning in 2010, the company said. “As technology has continued to advance, and the application of dry stack in cold, wet climates has proven successful at multiple locations, Twin Metals made the decision to move to it as the best available option,” TMM said, adding that The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy hailed the advantages of dry stack tailings in a statement earlier this year.

Osborne concluded: “Dry stack is one of the ways we are making a 21st century mine that will be the most technologically advanced mine in Minnesota’s history and a model of how copper mining can be done safely and sustainably.”

The approach will be outlined in detail in TMM’s Mine Plan of Operation, to be submitted to state and federal regulators in the coming months. Regulatory review, including hearings for public comment, will cover compliance with regulations to protect water and air quality, drinking water, wetlands, endangered species, plant life and cultural resources. While the MPO is being reviewed the company will advance the feasibility study.

After reaffirming Twin Metal’s right to renew its two federal mineral leases, the Department of Interior reinstated the leases to TMM in May 2018. Antofagasta expects these to be renewed during 2019.

FLSmidth responds to north Chile mining demand with opening of new service centre

FLSmidth says it has launched a new service centre for customers in the north of Chile focused on timely delivery of mining equipment to customers and component maintenance.

The opening event, held last week, was attended by a number of key customers and representatives from local authorities, according to FLSmidth.

The 8,000 m² facility, in Copiapó, is geared towards meeting the high demand for mining service and technical support in the region.

FLSmidth said: “The service centre has a primary emphasis on supplying solutions that extend the asset’s life cycle, such as repairs and rebuilds; equipment and components upgrades; parts and consumables strategic stocking programs; tailored training programs; technical assistance; and customised service packages.”

The facility ensures customers receive the required knowhow to optimise their operations, as well as support when it comes to inspections, process audits and technical issues, the company added.

Andrés Costa, President FLSmidth South America, said: “This is a significant milestone for the company, since Copiapó represents an important part of our operations in Chile. The huge mining industry potential in the area and our large installed base requires an infrastructure like this so we can work closer with our customers, get to know their challenges and deliver sustainable productivity solutions to their operations.”

Carlos Sagredo, Plant Manager North Chile, said: “This new service centre will deliver extra availability and reliability to our customers, improving their productivity and uptime, reducing total cost of ownership and extending their equipment lifespan.”

Copiapó Service Center joins other FLSmidth service facilities in South America region, such as São Paulo (Brazil), Arequipa (Peru), Iquique, Antofagasta and Santiago (Chile).

Antofagasta backing ‘digital transformation’ of operations

Antofagasta, in its 2018 financial results, has promoted its innovation focus, saying it is critical to creating long-term value and being “a key enabler of safe, sustainable competitiveness and growth”.

One of the ways the company is seeking innovative solutions is through the increased use of data and technology, which it calls “the digitalisation of operations”.

Antofagasta said it is investing significantly in this area, which has an implementation budget of $40 million, to strengthen its technological platform, including critical operating systems and connectivity.

The company has also applied advanced data analytics at its processing plants to better understand and improve their performance.

In the meantime, it said work was underway on the design of a Remote Centre that will allow integrated operations management at its Centinela operation in Chile. Service provider Wood is currently preparing a prefeasibility study for this technologically-advanced integrated operations centre, which includes cloud data storage and information management for its operations, easily accessible from anywhere in the world.

Antofagasta continued: “It’s not just at the operating level that there are benefits of improved data.

“Los Pelambres constantly monitors its tailings deposits and, as part of the Programa Tranque project, expects to start releasing the monitoring results online early next year. This will provide the community with real time information, helping to build trust between ourselves and our neighbours,” the company said.

Programa Tranque contemplates the development of an online monitoring system of tailing deposits to transmit, process and broadcast, in a user-friendly way, updated physical and chemical indicators of the deposits.

It incorporates the best available technologies and innovative mechanisms for the measurement of critical parameters and variables, as well as an information management platform to communicate information to authorities, mining companies, and the community, allowing an early warning system to be activated ahead of potential emergency situations.

In addition to Antofagasta, BHP and Codelco are partnering on this five-year programme that seeks to position Chile as the leading country in information transparency related to the performance of its tailing deposits.

Thiess builds on South America first with Antofagasta contract extension in Chile

CIMIC Group’s global mining services provider, Thiess, has been awarded a A$420 million ($303 million) contract extension by Antofagasta Minerals (AMSA) to continue operations at the Encuentro open pit in northern Chile.

Thiess will continue to provide mining services for another four years as part of the contract with a scope of works comprised of drilling, load and haul, mobile equipment maintenance and mine services.

The original 2015 contract with AMSA was Thiess’ first in South America.

Douglas Thompson, CIMIC Group Executive Mining and Mineral Processing and Thiess Managing Director, said: “Since commencing operations in 2015, we have moved over 70 million cubic metres, a first for Thiess in South America. This has been possible through the team’s focus on efficiency and productivity and working collaboratively with our client.”

Planned future improvements at the mine include investment in maintenance infrastructure, a fleet management system and transfer to Thiess of short-term mine planning responsibilities, CIMIC said.

Earlier this month, the Thiess Centinela operation was announced as winners of the ‘National Geology and Mining Service Award’ for safety performance by the Chilean government.

The Encuentro Oxides deposit came into production at AMSA’s Centinela mine in the last quarter of 2017. It is expected to produce an average of approximately 43,000 t/y of copper cathode over an eight-year period, using the existing capacity at Centinela’s SX-EW plant.