Tag Archives: Chile

Cedric Minería selects CDE EvoWash wet processing tech for Buin sand, gravel ops

Chilean mining and aggregates company, Cedric Minería, has announced a major overhaul of its aggregates business following a significant investment in advanced wet processing technology from CDE, the Belfast-based company says.

The family business, which expanded into aggregates production in 2003, has revealed plans for a new wet processing solution at its Buin operation.

Established in 1981, Cedric Minería specialised in the production of calcium carbonate and sulphur products before diversifying its interests and launching its silica operation, Mina Nancy, near the city of Calama in Antofagasta Region.

It soon secured listing as a strategic supplier of silica to state-owned copper mining company Codelco for its copper smelting plant in Chuquicamata, northern Chile.

Following the success of its silica business, Cedric Minería soon after commissioned its first aggregates processing plant in Buin which supplies the local market with a range of washed sand and gravel products for pre-cast concrete, asphalt, pipe bedding and more.

This summer, CDE will commission the EvoWash™ sand wash plant and an AquaCycle™ water management system at the company’s Buin site, replacing their existing washing screws.

Using CDE cyclone technology, the new plant will enable Cedric Minería to produce two grades of high quality, in-spec fine sands: 0-5 mm and 0-8 mm.

A compact, modular sand washing system, CDE’s EvoWash screens and separates the smaller sand and gravel fractions through an integrated high-frequency dewatering screen, sump and hydrocyclones which provide control of silt cut points and eliminates the loss of quality fines with significant commercial value.

An alternative to water extraction and the costly process of pumping water to the plant, CDE’s AquaCycle significantly reduces costly water consumption by ensuring up to 90% of process water is recycled for immediate recirculation, the company says. It helps to accelerate return on investment by maximising production efficiency, minimising the loss of valuable fines and reducing water and energy costs. A single, compact and user-friendly unit, it can be applied to high and low tonnages across many market sectors.

Cedric Minería owner, Cedric Fernández, says the investment in CDE technology is a significant step forward for the company.

“We’re making a huge technological leap forward with this new plant. Cedric Minería branched into the aggregates business almost two decades ago and throughout that time we have operated a traditional system,” Fernández said. “The existing plant has served us well, but we need a modern solution that is future-ready. Our latest investment in CDE wet processing technology represents the beginning of a new chapter for our company.”

Fernández says the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the construction industry but anticipates strong future demand for sand and aggregates to support the country’s public works investments.

CDE Business Development Executive, Gustavo Brasil, says older technology is very much under the spotlight for materials processors as they work to remedy inefficiencies.

“Recognising the limitations of the existing setup, the team at Cedric Minería are setting out on an ambitious transformation project to replace a traditional processing plant with a much more advanced and efficient technological solution,” he said.

The CDE solution engineered for Cedric Minería will revolutionise its current process, he added.

“CDE’s Evowash solution will enable Cedric Minería to produce superior fine sands with less moisture content while the AquaCycle water management system will deliver massive efficiency gains by recycling process water and driving down operational costs,” he said.

Monadelphous Group banks engineering work with BHP, Rio and Codelco

Monadelphous Group Ltd has secured several new construction and maintenance contracts in the resources sector totalling around A$215 million ($163 million).

Included within this slate of new work is a contract for smelter campaign maintenance works at the BHP owned Olympic Dam copper mine in South Australia. Monadelphous said work will commence immediately and is expected to be completed in December 2021.

Monadelphous has also been awarded a two-year extension to its existing maintenance services contract at Olympic Dam. The contract scope includes civil, structural, mechanical, building maintenance and electrical services, as well as the addition of underground rail maintenance services.

In the iron ore sector in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Monadelphous has been awarded several contracts, including several sustaining capital contracts under its panel agreements with BHP and Rio Tinto; and a contract with Rio for the provision of construction and support services associated with the Gudai-Darri iron ore project, with work expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

In Chile, the company’s maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, has secured a number of new contracts, including a three-year contract with Codelco for the operations and maintenance of water infrastructure at the Chuquicamata underground mine in Calama. Buildtek has been providing these services on this site since 2018.

In addition, the engineering company has secured two new contracts with Codelco for maintenance activities associated with the concentrator plant at El Teniente mine in Rancagua; and a contract with BHP Minera Escondida for the construction of modularised pump stations and associated infrastructure of the Escondida copper mine in Coloso.

Finally, Monadelphous, in collaboration with global heavy lifting services company Fagioli, has secured a contract with NMT International (Australia) to deliver specialist heavy lifting and haulage services at the Iron Bridge magnetite project, a joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Magnetite Pty Ltd and Formosa Steel IB. The strategic collaboration with Fagioli enables Monadelphous’ specialist Heavy Lift business to increase capacity and broaden capability for the Australian resources and energy markets, it said.

Highview to pair solar with cryogenic energy storage in Chile’s Atacama

Highview Enlasa, the 50/50 joint venture between Highview Power and Energía Latina SA-Enlasa, has announced the development of the first liquid air long duration energy storage project in Chile.

This 50 MW/500 MWh (10 hours) CRYOBattery™, which represents an estimated investment of $150 million, will be in Diego de Almagro in the Atacama Region.

With one of the highest solar irradiations in the world, the Atacama Region has the potential to generate all the country’s electricity. By pairing solar with cryogenic energy storage, Chile can benefit from 24/7, 100% renewable energy, according to Highview Power.

Engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) on the project will be carried out by SK Ingeniería y Construcción, a leading Chile-based EPC contractor and a subsidiary of the Sigdo Koppers group. The project is currently in the pre-feasibility engineering phase and is scheduled to enter environmental permitting in August. Construction is estimated to start in the second half of 2023.

Javier Cavada, CEO and President of Highview Power, said: “This is a big step forward to enabling decarbonisation goals for the country of Chile. Our liquid air energy storage technology is the optimal solution for the large scale, long duration energy storage that is needed to balance the grid, without the geographic constraints associated with other energy storage technologies.”

The Highview Enlasa joint venture is opening Latin American energy markets to baseload renewable energy potential, the companies say. When paired with renewable energy sources such as solar, Highview Power’s long duration energy storage system is equivalent in performance to thermal and nuclear power, it claims. CRYOBatteries are developed using proven components from mature industries and can deliver pumped-hydro capabilities without geographical constraints.

Fernando del Sol, President of Highview Enlasa, added: “The objective of our company is to make this innovative technology available to the market and to all actors in the electrical and mining sectors. These plants can replace traditional coal plants, which will help us contribute to accelerating the decarbonisation process in Chile and to combat climate change.”

Highview Power’s proprietary cryogenic energy storage technology uses air liquefaction, in which ambient air is cooled and turned to liquid at -196°C. The liquid air is stored at low pressure and later heated and expanded to drive a turbine and generate power. It is the only long duration energy storage solution available today that is locatable and can offer multiple gigawatt-hours (weeks) of storage, according to the company.

“The CRYOBattery has a small footprint and is scalable with no size limitations or geographic constraints, allowing for the deployment of massive amounts of renewables,” the company said.

Highview Power’s cryogenic energy storage plants offer valuable capabilities including voltage control, grid balancing and synchronous inertia that give grid operators the flexibility to manage power and energy services independently.”

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.”