Tag Archives: Ecuador

BQE Water to manage and treat water at El Mirador copper-gold mine

BQE Water has signed two agreements with EcuaCorriente SA (ECSA), an Ecuador subsidiary of a Chinese consortium, to prepare an adaptive mine water management plan and to improve the design of an existing water treatment plant for the El Mirador mine the consortium owns and operates in south-eastern Ecuador.

The first contract is for an assessment of the water treatment plant and a water management plan that is adaptive over the life of the mine based on water flow and quality that will be monitored as part of the plan.

Added to this is a second contract to provide technical support for implementing immediate improvements in the engineering design and operation of the existing water treatment facility to increase its robustness and reduce both project risks and long-term operating costs, BQE said.

Qiaofeng Xu, the Project Director for ECSA, said: “We selected BQE Water for their unique technical expertise, their successful track record in the design and operation of large water treatment plants for major Chinese mining producers, and for their ability to support project execution utilising personnel from their South American, China and Canadian offices.”

Songlin Ye, Vice President for Asia at BQE Water, said: “Our ability to do business with large Chinese metal producers and the success of our water treatment operations in China were instrumental in securing these new contracts. The El Mirador project is significant for BQE Water as it showcases our unique strength to be a trusted water services provider for mining projects with Chinese interests at a time when Chinese investment in global mining projects can be expected to grow.”

Oscar Lopez, General Manager for Latin America at BQE Water, said the El Mirador project represents the first large mining project where the company will be the technical lead for the overall site water management plan rather than focus only on water treatment.

“And, with the long time horizon for water treatment at El Mirador, the current contracts may provide an opportunity for further cooperation between our two companies to support EcuaCorriente to reduce life cycle costs and conduct mining operations in an environmentally friendly manner at El Mirador,” Lopez said.

The El Mirador mine, owned by a consortium consisting of China Railway Construction Corporation and Tonglin Nonferrous Metals Group, is a large copper-gold porphyry project that was brought into production in 2019. It is expected to produce an average over 200 MIb (90,718 t) of copper and 60,000 oz of gold annually for the next 30 years.

The project site is located in a net positive water balance environment and will require ECSA to treat and discharge mine water into the environment throughout the project life, BQE said. “As production ramps-up and the mine footprint increases, both the volume of water requiring treatment and the water composition will change.”

SolGold outlines new copper-gold-silver block cave mine plan at Alpala

SolGold has laid out plans to develop a mine at its majority-owned Alpala copper-gold-silver deposit, in northern Ecuador, that will use block cave mining methods applied over several caves designed on two vertically extensive lifts.

The preliminary economic assessment on Alpala estimated a pre-production capital expenditure of $2.4-2.8 billion for a mine that could produce 150,000 t/y of copper, 245,000 oz/y of gold and 913,000 oz/y of silver in concentrate over the life of mine.

The PEA stated a post-tax net present value (8% discount) of $4.1-4.5 billion based on an average $3.30/lb ($7,275/t) copper price, $1,300/oz gold price and $16/oz silver price depending on a 40-60 Mt/y throughput rate.

As part of the PEA, four mine production cases were pre-selected and assessed. This included a 40 Mt/y option over a 66-year mine life, a 50 Mt/y blueprint with a staged ramp up and a 57-year life, a 50 Mt/y fast ramp-up plan with 55-year life and a 60 Mt/y route with 49-year life.

Unit C1 operating costs over the life of the mine were estimated at $0.90/lb copper after gold and silver credits using the 50 Mt/y, fast ramp-up plan.

Resources scheduled in the PEA block cave designs accounted for 2.4 Bt at 0.54% CuEq ROM grade.

SolGold said the prefeasibility study is expected to be completed in December 2019 with a definitive feasibility study scheduled for completion at the end of 2020.

SolGold CEO, Nick Mather, said: “The unusually low operating costs modelled are due to the relatively soft, fractured nature of the ore, resulting in enhanced caveability, a high degree of fragmentation in the cave and ease of crushing and millability, combined with low hydroelectric (consumption and unit) costs. The overall scale efficiencies also assist in the delivery of modelled low operating costs.”

Metallurgical work at Alpala, which is ongoing, indicates gold contents in the pyrite concentrate will require additional investigation to identify an efficient recovery strategy, SolGold said.

Additional metallurgical work is expected to identify solutions for recovery of gold and copper in the pyrite concentrate along with a sulphuric acid product.

Over the period to the end of 2019 when SolGold aims to complete the prefeasibility study, activities will focus on exploration, a new mineral resource, metallurgy and process design, investigation of further tailing disposal options and incorporation of further geotechnical and hydrogeological data into the PFS basis, SolGold said.

SolGold will also commence permitting and fiscal discussions with the Ecuador Government and financial discussions with third party financiers for SolGold’s share of the project costs following completion of the FS.

Mine development ahead of schedule at Lundin Gold’s Fruta del Norte project

Lundin Gold has reached the orebody at its Fruta del Norte project in Ecuador, with mine development tracking ahead of schedule.

The Toronto and Stockholm-listed company said it has completed 4.5 km of underground mine development so far, with level development having now commenced.

In the construction update on the 3,500 t/d underground project, the company said overall engineering was 85% complete, with project construction at 45% completion.

Ron Hochstein, Lundin Gold’s President and CEO, said: “Our team has reached and, in some cases, exceeded the project’s targets, all while maintaining excellent safety standards. With 70% of our capital expenditure committed and detailed engineering nearly done, Fruta del Norte is on schedule to meet its target of producing first gold in the fourth (December) quarter of this year.”

Lundin Gold said the majority of large process plant mechanical equipment was now on site, while 22% of powerline infrastructure was finished. The company noted it had clocked up more than 3 million manhours without a lost time incident.


Lundin Gold reported that the K’isa decline was completed on December 9, 2018, after 2.1 km of total development, and transitioned to production level 1170. Production level 1195 began on December 7, 2018 and a total of 330 m of level development on two levels has been completed. December average advance rates in K’isa were 9 m/d, versus a target of 7.1 m/d.

“The Kuri decline is at 2.07 km of total development and is progressing towards lower production levels in the mine. This decline was completed this month. December average advance rates in Kuri were 5 m/d, versus a target of 4.2 m/d,” Lundin said.

“Overall, advance rates in both declines exceeded the plan by 11% due to better than expected ground conditions and lower than anticipated water inflows.”

Lundin Gold said it is preparing the first stages of transition to owner operations and its mining fleet, which includes Epiroc drills and bolters and Cat scooptrams and trucks, has started to arrive at Fruta del Norte.

Process plant

Process plant concrete foundations (pictured) are 62% complete and structural steel erection is progressing as planned, the company said. The remaining mechanical equipment is expected to be on site this quarter and installation of the carbon-in-leach (CIL) circuit and grinding mills has started. Commissioning of the process plant is still on track to begin in September quarter of this year.

In October 2017, Lundin Gold awarded the long-lead time grinding equipment packages, including the SAG and ball mills (complete with motors) and the flotation and filtration packages to Outotec Chile SA. The gravity mill, CIL and detox tanks, and ADR plant and gold room packages were awarded to FLSmidth USA Inc. TelSmith will provide the crushing packages for both the process plant and aggregate quarry crushers, while ABB has been awarded switchgear and substation equipment and transformers packages.

With process plant engineering substantially complete, engineering efforts are now focused on the paste plant – where concrete works have begun – and water treatment plant facilities, Lundin Gold said.


The company successfully negotiated the Mountain Pass Quarry Exploitation Agreement with the local government in the December quarter of 2018, and extraction of aggregate materials began shortly after. Material from the quarry was necessary to move forward with the construction of the tailings storage facility (TSF).

Access roads and the polishing pond were completed in the December quarter, while construction advanced on the surface water perimeter diversion ditches around the TSF.

When fully ramped up, Fruta del Norte is expected to produce 325,000 oz/y of gold at an all-in sustaining cost of $583/oz over a 15-year period.