Tag Archives: Chile

CJC off-line oil filters keep mining crushers online

C.C.JENSEN says its off-line oil filters are helping miners reduce downtime through the removal of small very harmful particles that contribute to wear and tear and, ultimately, system failure.

As the company says, sudden crusher shutdowns caused by component failure cost both time and money, with dirty or contaminated oil often the cause of these failures.

Traditionally, the answer has been to schedule preventive maintenance in order to change the oil and replace components before they fail. In this way, the need for unscheduled maintenance is reduced, the company says.

“But scheduled maintenance is still maintenance, and still means downtime,” it explained. “And downtime comes at a cost, as does the premature replacement of components that still have useful life remaining. Not to mention the oil being changed more often than necessary.”

The answer, the company says, is to reduce the wear on components instead of having to replace them so often. This is where off-line oil filtration and the company’s CJC® Offline oil filter comes in.

How clean is the crusher lube oil?

With crushers being sited in very dirty and dusty environments, the oil gets highly contaminated with particles. Traditional in-line filters can process the oil in a crusher in a matter of minutes, but the particles they can filter are, in many cases, larger than the narrow clearances within the machinery. This means smaller particles are still free to circulate and cause costly damage to pumps, gears, bearings, etc.

There is a way to remove those smaller very harmful, micron-sized particles, which contribute to wear and tear and ultimately system failure, the company says.

CJC Offline Oil Filtration

An off-line oil filter can catch even the smallest particles, resulting in much cleaner oil without the presence of micron-sized particles that cause expensive wear and downtime. The finer filtration also reduces the risk of the oil degrading prematurely.

“It’s that degradation which all too often leads to oil-related component failures and, as a consequence, to expensive downtime while the parts are replaced,” the company says. “And it doesn’t matter whether that downtime is due to sudden failure or to preventive replacement in an attempt to avoid such failure. Downtime simply means lost production, regardless of the underlying reason.”

Off-line oil filtration is a much finer filtration process removing even the smallest micron-sized and harmful particles, as well as water from oil.

The result is significantly less wear on mechanical spare parts, thus extending their life as well as reducing the overall consumption of oil. In fact, the application of a CJC Oil Filter can, the company says, eliminate three of four shutdowns, extend oil lifetime by a factor of four and reduce spare parts consumption by up to 60%.

The effect on the bottom line is easy to calculate, the company says, as indicated with two examples.

A copper mine in Chile went from bi-monthly scheduled oil changes to a single, annual oil-related shutdown, for a 87% reduction in downtime, resulting in savings of almost $500,000/y before taking into account the savings on replacement parts.

Another copper mine saw cost savings of 86% on oil consumption, 73% savings of in-line filters, 62% savings in mechanical spare parts, resulting in total cost savings of €23,724 ($28,250) – approximately two thirds of the previous costs.

“Economic benefits are not the only reason to install off-line oil filtration,” the company says. “There are also environmental benefits to be gained.”

As the oil needs to be changed much less frequently, there is a reduction in the amount of waste oil to be disposed of, and less new oil is needed. All in all, this has a positive impact on the overall environmental footprint.

Aggreko to energise mine power space with investment proposition

Mobile power provider Aggreko says it is making the transition from being a pure power provider to a long-term mining project investor that is helping miners navigate the energy transition.

Aggreko has built an almost 60-year-long reputation for powering many sectors around the globe. It has also supplied power and underground cooling to the mining sector for more than 35 years and has evolved into life-of-mine contracts and renewables.

In its latest report – which details its future energy transition – Aggreko cites mining as a major growth sector. Aggreko Australia Pacific Managing Director, George Whyte, stated that Aggreko’s global team’s unique offering is with build-own-operate investments across all continents.

As well as continuing to invest upward of £250 million ($347 million) annually in technology and innovation, the company says it is ready to further boost its investments in the natural resources industry.

Whyte said: “Investor partnerships can support the rapid changes in technology and emissions compliance that our mining customers are facing. Investing millions of dollars in capital for a mine’s power plant is a risk for any company, and, as a partner, Aggreko takes on this risk instead of the mining company. It is a smart way for miners to do business in the post-COVID and renewables era.”

Aggreko’s Global Head of Mining, Rod Saffy, said miners struggling to get funding for capital expenditure projects were looking to outsource, and there was a trend toward creating partnerships with providers.

“Partnerships provide more value beyond de-risking project finances,” Saffy said. “There are technology and emissions risks, so by partnering with us, for example, we aren’t just supplying equipment and labour, we share in decision making and project milestones, we invest and update technology on-site and navigate social and environmental impacts together.”
Saffy said companies looking to build power stations for the first time particularly benefited from supportive partnerships with Aggreko.

“Power stations are our core business, and they have become much more complex on mine sites than they have been in the past,” he said. “It is challenging to get funding to build power stations, and miners are needing support to integrate renewables into their plans immediately or in the future, or needing solutions designed from scratch.

“Partnering with us is a sustainable and beneficial business solution. Miners are wanting hybrid power stations that might utilise a mix of energy sources such as diesel, gas, solar or battery, for example. They also want that power to be scaled up or down and upgraded as their needs change and new technology comes online.”

Saffy said mines throughout the world were becoming less dependent on mass-scale thermal plants to deliver baseload power through national grids.

“With the cost of renewable power generation falling, there is also growth in localised microgrids, which means less dependence or complete independence from the grid,” he said. “Miners in Australia, Africa and South America, where there is less infrastructure in remote locations, are finding it particularly helpful to partner with us from the start of a major project.”

One such example is the Gold Fields Salares Norte Mine in northern Chile where Aggreko has become a major investor, and partner for the mining project for at least 10 years. The mine is located 190 km from the nearest town and is 4,500 m above sea level, and Aggreko is creating an off-grid hybrid power solution, comprising of diesel and solar for the harsh environmental conditions. Aggreko estimates the mine will experience $7.4 million in cost energy savings across the 10 years.

Saffy said the benefits for Aggreko in partnering and investing with miners from the beginning of their project to the end of the life of mine was beneficial for both parties.

“As a partner, Aggreko de-risks the threat of future innovation and technology for miners,” he said. “Our build, own, operate and maintain model frees up working capital without increasing the debt ratio for mining projects. Modular equipment also gives miners the ability to leverage innovation at low risk and not be concerned about having the latest equipment.

“We benefit too, by showcasing our expertise and innovations throughout a project’s lifecycle and support mining companies to reduce emissions and increase their operational efficiencies.”

Late last year, Aggreko committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Pucobre takes the rapid mine development route with Epiroc

Faced with the challenge of boosting productivity and lowering costs, Chile-based copper miner Pucobre has teamed up with Epiroc to implement the first Rapid Mine Development (RMD) project in the country.

Combining technology and changes in mindset to build high-quality mine infrastructure, the company is now on a path to become a 4.0 mine, Epiroc says.

In 2016, Pucobre, a selective underground copper mining company, was faced with a conundrum: grades at its deposits were falling, and global red metal prices were unstable.

The company knew it needed to change to remain competitive and began looking for ways of working that were more productive, efficient and cost effective. That is when the idea of Rapid Mine Development (RMD) appeared on the horizon, Epiroc said.

“RMD is a method for making higher-quality tunnels, faster in the underground mine development cycle,” it said. “What previously depended largely on the skill and experience of the drill operator and explosives technician are now computer-supported tools for standardisation and optimisation.

“For Pucobre, RMD has meant not only a change in technology but also a cultural change oriented toward quality and discipline.”

The project started as part of a strategic partnership with Epiroc, unique in Chile, which commenced with a contract in 2017 to replace Pucobre’s truck and loader fleet with Minetruck MT65 trucks and Scooptram ST18 loaders, vehicles with higher capacity.

The partnership was unique because it guaranteed the mechanical operability of the equipment over its working lifetime, Epiroc said. This is nine years in the case of the trucks, and 5-6 years for the loaders. The previous vehicles used by Pucobre had to be changed every 2-3 years, which led to the first in many steps of change management for Pucobre, with more focus on complete maintenance of the vehicles to ensure their longevity.

On its premises in Atacama desert, Pucobre set up a training centre with simulators to instruct drivers how to handle these new vehicles, installed a maintenance workshop, and had Epiroc staff permanently on site to jointly solve problems that might arise. Encouraged by this experience, Pucobre and Epiroc began to explore new ways to streamline the operation.

Sebastián Ríos (pictured below), CEO of Pucobre, said: “Epiroc has always shown a great disposition for solving problems and working to ensure that the trucks and loaders are successful.”

According to Marco Troncoso, Pucobre’s Mining Operations Head, before embarking on RMD, the company’s way of working was “very dependent on specific skills of its people”, with Pucobre keen to leverage technology and improve the efficiency of its workers.

Troncoso said: “Epiroc said to us: ’let us help you build the new house in which you will live for the next 30 years.’ Once you get used to doing things in a quality way, the results improve.”

Epiroc visited Pucobre’s three site operations near the northern city of Copiapó, and Pucobre came up with a three-year development plan (2019-2021) to boost productivity by 40% and reduce costs by 25%.

Pucobre and Epiroc went on site visits to Australia, Nevada (USA), Sweden and Canada where the company could see leading mining companies using Boomer face drilling rigs in action, as well as the new concepts of mine management, which would also be adopted.

Two alternatives were proposed to help Pucobre meet its goals. One was to use multi-role face drills, like in Australia, which combine blasthole drilling and rock reinforcement such as scaling, bolting and meshing in a single rig. The other alternative was RMD, a method which promises longer rounds, higher accuracy, reduced overbreak and better quality tunnels, Epiroc said.

“Most importantly, with the latest Boomer S2 rigs – equipped with ABC Total, a smart function that allows for complete automation of the drilling process – RMD offered a path that would enable the machinery to operate autonomously during lunch breaks and shift changes, thereby resulting in more productivity gains,” the company said.

Once Pucobre had opted for RMD, the company invested in four of the latest Boomer face drilling rigs and three Simba production drill rigs. To monitor development and meet key performance indicators, Pucobre went digital, building a new Mining Operations Centre on site. In the future, the company is expected to deploy Epiroc’s 6th Sense Mine Management Solution, which combines the Mobilaris scheduler and other task management and reporting features, as well as the Certiq telematics solution, which gathers, compares and communicates vital equipment information to the surface.

Investing in and betting on RMD has meant a major leap of faith on the part of Pucobre. The total investment over the nine-year contract period is likely to reach $60-70 million, factoring in machinery, spare parts and technology. There have also been major time investments in training and change management.

Ríos said: “This is the biggest change in Pucobre in the last 30 years.”

A big challenge for Pucobre was the increased development rates over the coming years, which came with a significant cost increase. Cost estimations prior to project start showed significant cost savings by using RMD to prevent this.

So, the alternative – to keep doing things the way they had before – was not compelling. According to Epiroc’s calculations, without RMD, Pucobre’s annual development costs would have increased 3%/y from $25.5 million in 2019 to $27 million in 2022. With RMD, development costs are projected to fall to $21.3 million in 2022.

Change management has been the other major challenge on this journey, adapting attitudes and skill sets to the new ways of working. Pucobre introduced Short Interval Control (SIC), which is a structured process that measures short intervals of production to identify opportunities for improvement.

To manage the operation, it is necessary to have as much information online as possible, such as the location of vehicles and work plans for the day, so that personnel in the Mining Operations Centre can make decisions and improve productivity.

Ríos said: “The engineering department had to modify how it plans, now with shorter intervals. What was previously done in the field now has to be carefully planned and coordinated before it is executed.”

Cultural differences between the Swedish and Chilean way of doing things have required compromises on both sides and commitment and team work to make this unique joint venture successful.

The RMD project at Pucobre is being implemented in four stages. After getting used to using standardised, computerised drill plans using navigation methods, the project has now moved to a second stage – to optimise the machinery to extend explosive rounds to 4.4 m, from 3.8 m. The goal is to reach 95% of the blasting target with less than 5% underbreak or overbreak and to increase development rates from 1,100 m/mth to 1,400 m/mth.

Stage 3 is continuous improvement, leveraging reported data from the rigs to correct divergence using Rig Remote Access (RRA), which enables two-way communication between the drill and the RRA server using the site W-LAN wireless network.

But the principal objective is to reach stage 4, where drills can operate autonomously during lunch and shift breaks using the ABC Total smart function.

Progress has been fast, according to Hilario Arce, Head of Pucobre’s mining operations. With the Minetruck MT65 trucks and Scooptram ST18 loaders, Pucobre has already increased its monthly mineral extraction to 460,000 t, from 333,000 t previously. Two of the three mining sites are now operating 100% RMD, the third one is coming soon. Operators are getting close to the 95% blasting target, and Arce is confident 60-70% of drilling will be automated come March 2021.

The Epiroc Simba 7 long-hole rigs are the most advanced to date in Punta del Cobre in terms of the use of ABC Total, but the system will start implementation in Boomer rigs in December.

Working closely together has been key for Epiroc to build trust, says Charlie Ekberg, General Manager of Epiroc Chile, who underscores that demonstrating success with Pucobre will be key for winning similar projects elsewhere in Chile. Epiroc is also betting on introducing teleremote technology for mine loaders and battery-powered trucks in Chile next year.

“That’s why we put so much effort into training,” Ekberg said. “It’s not just about selling the machine. We want the equipment to work and, if a machine is standing idle, we want to know why. We’ve had to learn how the customer thinks and always be one step ahead.”

In terms of results and costs of the overall project, Pucobre is still only halfway to where it wants to be, according to Ríos. But he knows Pucobre is on the right path.

He said: “There are still gaps. Sometimes the trucks aren’t loading to their full capacity, or the loading cycle and return to the surface is taking longer than planned. That equation still has room for improvement.”

It has been a learning experience for both Epiroc and Pucobre. Overly ambitious KPIs and targets set at the beginning have had to be modified to suit the pace of progress and time needed to train with this new way of doing things. That is where change management has been one of the biggest challenges.

“There are many things that change in the day-to-day operation,” Ríos said. “You contract new people, new technology, there is a change in planning. You have to look at the way that people adapt to this new way of working.

“You have to support people in this process so that it flows with the help of the human resources department. Change is difficult. It’s like working from home, which many people have done this year. You have to manage it well, for it to be successful. We trust our people will do it.”

This first appeared as an Epiroc customer story here.

Codelco to extend life of Salvador Division with Rajo Inca copper project

The Codelco board has approved the development of the $1.383 billion Rajo Inca structural project, part of its Salvador Division in Chile’s Atacama.

The figure is 33% less than the investment contemplated by Codelco in 2014 thanks to the use and optimisation of existing infrastructure within the division, especially in the mine areas and the tailings deposit. Ongoing maintenance of the concentrator and hydrometallurgical plants has also helped bring down this figure.

The savings were also achieved through the planned reuse of mining equipment. When it enters operations, Rajo Inca will require 25-30 300-ton capacity trucks, hydraulic shovels and large tonnage front end loaders. Most of this equipment will come from other Codelco divisions, the company says.

The structural project includes a 22-month pre-stripping period and a seven-month ramp up of the concentrator plant. Commissioning will begin in the second half of 2022, with production reaching a annualised rate of 90,000 t/y of copper in the first half of 2023.

After the favourable Environmental Qualification Resolution obtained in February 2020 and the approval of the funds by the board of directors, the structural project will mean a rebirth for Salvador, as it will become a more modern, “technologised”, sustainable and productive operation, the company said. Its development will add 47 more years of life to this camp.

The Salvador Division has operated since 1959 with underground mining and three small open pits. With the latest investment, production will increase by 50% from 60,000 t/y to 95,000 t/y of fine copper.

Austin Engineering lauds APAC performance as it heads for FY21 guidance hit

Austin Engineering Ltd is on track to hit its earning guidance after securing new orders for more than 100 products, including truck bodies, water tanks and buckets totalling more than A$35 million ($26 million) in revenue over the past few weeks.

This order flow supports previously announced earning guidance of an underlying net profit after tax in excess of A$9 million for its 2021 financial year (to June 30, 2021), which remains in place, Austin said.
Recent confirmed notable purchase orders received include:

  • Seventy-eight truck bodies for a large global miner in the Pilbara region of Western Australia for delivery throughout the balance of the current and next Australia financial years;
  • Twelve truck bodies for a large global mining contractor for delivery into Queensland, Australia – manufactured in Austin’s Indonesian facility;
  • Eight truck bodies for a large global gold miner in Western Australia; and
  • Three stairway access water tanks for a large global miner in Queensland, Australia – manufactured in Austin’s Indonesian facility.

Austin’s order book and committed work is now in excess of 70% of expected revenues, in line with this time in 2019, it said.

The Asia-Pacific region is outperforming expectations with key workshops in Perth and Indonesia well positioned to remain close to capacity for the balance of the financial year and beyond, the company added.

The economic environment in North and South America is less supportive than contemplated at the start of the financial year, Austin said.

“The continued backdrop of the US election and ongoing COVID-19 position in the USA appears to have impacted customer confidence in deploying capital in the short term,” it added. “Austin expects an improvement to this position, post January 2021, with annual budgets of US customers replenished on a calendar year basis, along with a completed Presidential transition. Ahead of this, Austin is currently quoting on a large volume of work in North America with decisions expected early in the third quarter (March quarter) of this financial year.”

Business conditions in South America have been similarly impacted by COVID-19, which has delayed several tender decisions for long-term supply contracts for both new equipment and repair and maintenance in Chile, Austin said. “Austin is well positioned for a number of opportunities but has seen short term softness due to the deferment of decisions,” it added.

Austin Managing Director, Peter Forsyth, said: “The Asia-Pacific region is performing exceptionally well at the moment with a strong line of sight to keeping our two large facilities in Perth and Indonesia close to capacity, and I am very happy with the level of orders and further opportunities in this region. Offsetting this strength, the Americas are currently facing challenging operating environments, and this is a product of the broader economies in those regions. I am heartened by the scale of opportunities in the US, Canada and Chile and we remain confident that the tide will begin to turn early in the New Year in these regions.”

In other innovation-focused developments, Austin said it was recently asked to provide a solution for a Canadian customer that had two key requirements when sourcing truck bodies for their operation: first, to achieve the maximum payload possible; and second, to ensure that the truck bodies would not require any maintenance before replacement.

Austin designed an ultra-light weight body that offered a substantial payload increase on previous designs with sufficient structural integrity to remain maintenance free for a shortened design life of less than two years, it said. This solution will enable the customer to achieve a lower cost per tonne and provides Austin with a more regular replacement cycle of equipment in this mine.

TAKRAF dry-stacked tailings test work boost for Los Andes Copper’s Vizcachitas project

Los Andes Copper says it has received additional positive results from the ongoing prefeasibility study (PFS) metallurgical test work at its Vizcachitas project in Chile.

These results show improved filtration rates for both the fine and coarse fraction tailings compared with previous testing, it said, reinforcing the decision to adopt dry-stacked tailings at the project.

An October press release regarding PFS metallurgical test work carried out by SGS demonstrated that the Vizcachitas tailings were amenable to being filtered and dry-stacked.

These same coarse and fine representative tailings samples were sent to the TAKRAF laboratories for further settling and filtration assessments. Los Andes said the TAKRAF work tested various settling and filtration parameters, including those previously tested.

The studies demonstrated that for the coarse fraction vacuum filtration, the rates improved from 1.9 t/h/sq.m to 3.4 t/h/sq.m when compared with the previous results. For the finer fraction, the settling velocities improved from 8.4 m/h to 16 m/h and the pressure filtration rates improved from 0.6 t/h/sq.m to 0.7 t/h/sq.m. The expected cake moistures for both filtration technologies were 15%.

These positive results mean that the Vizcachitas project, processing 110,000 t/d of ore, would only need to use eleven standard 162 sq.m belt filters and four 2.5 m x 2.5 m pressure filters for the tailings dewatering operation, Los Andes said, noting that other operations in the world were successfully operating with similar filter arrangements.

“Tailings filtration reduces water consumption by 50% when compared to thickened tailings disposal alternatives,” Los Andes said. “Furthermore, filtered tailings can be handled by trucks, conveyors and shovels, eliminating the need for the construction and operation of a tailings dam.

“The adoption of this technology puts the Vizcachitas project at the forefront of the environmentally responsible practices being adopted for the future of sustainable mining globally.”

Los Andes Copper commits to HPGR comminution route for Vizcachitas

Los Andes Copper says additional comminution test work has confirmed the selection of high pressure grinding rolls (HPGR) circuit technology for use in the processing circuit at its Vizcachitas copper project in Chile.

The use of HPGR, and the adoption of the previously announced dry-stack tailings, reinforces the company’s commitment to the environment and designing a sustainable operation with low energy and water consumption, it said.

At early stages of the Vizcachitas prefeasibility study (PFS), HPGR technology had been identified as the most attractive grinding alternative, given the data obtained from preliminary test work conducted in 2009, and in 2017-2018. As part of the PFS metallurgical test work, four representative samples from the mine plan were sent to a laboratory for pressure bed testing. The results of this test work confirmed the equipment sizing and its performance for a PFS-level study.

The results provided specific energy consumption readings of 2.17 kWh/t in the case of a HPGR circuit, which results in a global specific energy consumption of the comminution circuit of approximately 14 kWh/t. As compared with the semi-autogenous grinding alternative, the HPGR showed a reduction of up to 20% in energy and up to 50% in grinding media consumption, Los Andes Copper said. These results confirm the advantages of adopting this technology at the project.

The comminution circuit at Vizcachitas, where the HPGR circuit will be incorporated, is a three-stage crushing circuit using a gyratory primary crusher, three cone crushers in open circuit and two HPGR as a tertiary stage arranged in a closed circuit followed by ball mills. Through this process, and in addition to the lower energy consumption, the use of HPGR will reduce dust emissions related to dry crushing due to the removal of coarse recirculation in the secondary crushing stage, the company said.

Fernando Porcile, Executive Chairman of Los Andes, said: “I am pleased that the results from the test work carried out to date have confirmed the advantages of using HPGR in terms of enhancing project economics, lowering energy consumption and increasing operational flexibility.

“The use of HPGR technology favours the stability of the dry stacked tailings operation, as well as reducing the environmental impact by minimising energy usage, water consumption and dust emissions.”

Finning flags Cat truck fleet renewal, rebuild and autonomy potential in Western Canada

Finning is sensing the potential for future fleet renewals, rebuilds and autonomy conversions from its Caterpillar off-highway truck customers in Western Canada as the average age of its Cat truck population in this region increases.

Commenting on this during its September quarter results – which saw revenue and gross profit drop 21% and 15%, respectively – the company was able to provide some positive forecasts for its business in Canada and Chile.

Finning said it was gearing up for higher production out of Canada’s oil sands sector in 2021, explaining output had recovered from the lows seen during the onset of COVID-19 and the company was expecting an increase next year.

“Oil sands producers’ truck fleet utilisation returned to pre-COVID-19 levels at the end of September, and contractor fleets have begun to increase utilisation and should ramp up further in Q4 (December quarter) 2020 and into 2021,” the company said. “We expect product support activity in the oil sands to improve in Q4 2020 and into 2021, driven by catch up on major rebuild and maintenance work and an increase in oil production and non-production mining activities.”

Finning said while restricted capital spending and ongoing cost containment were impacting demand for new mining equipment, the company expected mining product support activity to improve as customers increase production output and resume full-scope maintenance activities.

Finning’s mining customers in Western Canada operate around 620 large and ultra-class Caterpillar off-highway trucks, of which 6% are autonomous (mostly in the oil sands). The average age of this Caterpillar truck population in Western Canada is about 11 years.

As mentioned, this large and ageing fleet is expected to drive opportunities for future fleet renewals, rebuilds and autonomy conversions, as well as continued demand for product support, the company said.

It added: “We are also seeing a notable resumption in request for proposal activity from Canadian mining customers.”

In the Chile mining sector, meanwhile, Finning said COVID-19-related operating restrictions were easing, with customers beginning to catch up on component exchange and major maintenance work.

“We expect mining product support revenue to recover significantly as we exit 2020 and begin 2021,” it said.

Finning was optimistic about mining recovery in Chile in 2021, driven by a strengthened copper price and expected increase in copper production, it said.

Over 570 large and ultra-class Caterpillar off-highway trucks with an average age of 11 years are currently operating in Chile’s copper mines and will continue to drive demand for product support, it added.

“We are also encouraged by the resumption of Teck’s QB2 project – the first deployment of autonomous trucks in Chile – and have started to deliver equipment to QB2 in Q4 (December quarter) 2020,” Finning said.

Finning said it has also seen a notable increase in request for proposal activity from mining customers in Chile.

Los Andes Copper confirms dry stacked tailings plan at Vizcachitas

Los Andes Copper has received results from the ongoing prefeasibility metallurgical study on its Vizcachitas copper project which, consistent with all prior test work conducted, confirms the adoption of dry stacked tailings at the Chile asset.

During 2020, Los Andes has continued metallurgical testing at the SGS laboratory in Santiago, Chile. The test work was carried out on representative samples from locked cycle flotation tailings that reproduce the expected particle size distribution for the coarse and fine tailings fractions at Vizcachitas, it explained.

The planned prefeasibility study (PFS) system for the water recovery is to use vacuum belts for the coarse tailings and pressure filters for the fine tailings. The filtration rates for coarse fraction vacuum filtration are between 1.8-2.0 t/h/sq.m and the fine fraction pressure filtration rates between 0.5-0.6 t/h/sq.m. The expected average filtered cake moisture is between 15-18%, confirming that the Vizcachitas ore is amenable to being filtered and dry stacked.

As the PFS advances, the decision to implement filtered tailings for dry stacking reflects the commitment of Vizcachitas to become one of the early adopters of the environmental friendly technology that will guide global mining in the future, Los Andes said.

Filtration reduces water consumption by 50% when compared with thickened tailings disposal alternatives (60-70% reduction when compared to traditional disposal alternatives), according to the company. Furthermore, filtered tailings can be handled by trucks, conveyors and shovels, as other solid bulk materials, eliminating the need for the construction and operation of a tailings dam.

“The latter is a milestone in operational flexibility and safety standards of particular relevance in a seismic country such as Chile,” the company said.

Fernando Porcile, Executive Chairman, said: “The verification that dry stacked filtered tailings is a viable option for Vizcachitas puts us on the forefront of environmentally responsible practices being adopted for the future of sustainable mining globally.

“Water conservation is high on the agenda for many mining companies, especially in Chile, and therefore the fact that we can reduce our water consumption by approximately 60-70% by using this method is a really positive development.

“This is a proven technology which is now being carried over into Tier One copper projects and I am excited that we will be one of the first, large scale, copper mines to utilise it.”

ABB, TAKRAF complete commissioning of Chuquicamata conveyor system

ABB, working with TAKRAF, has completed commissioning and testing of the world’s highest-powered gearless conveyor drive system at the Codelco-owned Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile.

ABB has provided engineering design, gearless conveyor drives (GCD), electrical equipment for power supply, energy distribution and automation of a new underground and overland conveyor system at one of the world’s largest copper mines.

Chuquicamata is currently transitioning from open-pit to underground mining, with the conveyor system, commissioned in just four months, part of a new underground project that is expected to extend operations for the next 40 years.

Project management and engineering for the full electrical, control and instrumentation scope was led by ABB in Germany, with long spells on site in northern Chile to work side-by-side with TAKRAF to equip the site’s new underground operation with a large conveying system that overcomes an altitude difference of 1,200 m and covers a distance of almost 13 km, ABB said.

The three principle 11,000 t/h conveyors feature GCDs equipped with large ABB AC synchronous motors with a rated power of 5 MW each, resulting in a motor shaft torque of about 900 kNm. With every line in constant use, high availability and low maintenance are essential. Designed with a minimum of transfer stations, just one was required underground, saving significant project cost, ABB said.

Based on continuous conveying technology, the infrastructure is completely truck-less, eliminating the need for 120 large haul trucks. This results in saving around 130 million litres/y of gasoline consumption, bringing the carbon emissions from 340,000 t/y down to 100,000 t/y. It is also the first transportation system in the world to employ premium steel cable belt technology, ST10000, for use on uphill tunnel conveyors, according to ABB.

ABB high power motors in position

“This mega project achieves a number of firsts, from the system’s installed drive power to the application of the ST10000 conveyor belt,” Marc Hollinger, TAKRAF Project Manager, said. “With this project, we firmly establish TAKRAF as one of the world’s only providers capable of delivering a mega project of this nature incorporating advanced technologies that push the boundaries of what has been done before. This is a complex project of the highest magnitude demanding global cooperation between internal and external parties.”

Ulf Richter, Global Product Manager for Belt Conveyor Systems at ABB, said: “This is a new milestone in underground applications for continuous mining. It is the highest drive power ever installed on a conveyor and uses a wide range of features for data acquisition, equipment assessment and process optimisation.

“In piloting this gearless drive application with TAKRAF, we have overcome tremendous technical and logistical challenges due to underground situations, elevation change and capacity requirements.”

ABB liquid-cooled MV voltage-source frequency converters, together with large synchronous motors, deliver a decrease in active and reactive power consumption at the operation. This is highly energy efficient, and without additional network filters, it says.

ABB’s Mining Conveyor Control Program ensures smooth belt operation and safe synchronisation between high power motors and high power hydraulic brakes, necessary for secure operation of steep uphill conveyors. The drive systems also work without mechanic backstops, ABB said.

A novel embedding concept, developed jointly by TAKRAF and ABB, enables straightforward installation and alignment of the GCD motors, saving installation time and longer deployment of maintenance teams. This was considered a major benefit compared with existing GCDs in cantilevered construction, ABB said. The concept also meant motors were 100% factory assembled and tested. They can also be mechanically disconnected from the drive pulley quickly so operations can continue if drive failure occurs. The total installed drive power for the entire system, including multiple feeder conveyors, totals 58 MW, of which there are 11 x 5 MW gearless synchronous motors.

ABB has also installed ABB Ability™ Ventilation Optimizer at Chuquicamata reducing carbon emissions and providing clean air to workers in line with the strict health, safety and environment requirements.