First Quantum Minerals reports that during the early morning hours of January 23, a land slippage occurred on the slope of the northern zone of the open-pit mine in the Cobre Las Cruces mining hydrometallurgical complex, in Gerena, Spain.
The company clarified that the slippage did not cause harm to any persons nor any impact on any third-party facilities or land.
First Quantum said: “The company has immediately activated the established safety and environmental emergency procedures, evacuating the area and isolating the incident. Furthermore, the relevant administrations have been informed without delay, and the company is in constant communication with them.”
At the present time, production in the CLC hydrometallurgical plant has been temporarily suspended while investigations are being conducted, the company said.
“The company is monitoring the situation continuously and is taking all the necessary measures to resolve the incident and will provide updates as appropriate.”
The CLC operation produced 70,738 t of copper cathode in 2018, slightly behind the 73,664 t produced in 2017.
The operation uses conventional open-pit mining, based on hydraulic shovels and trucks, with drilling and blasting in the lower marls and ore zones. The project has a relatively high stripping ratio supported by the high-grade ore, according to First Quantum, and uses contract miners for all mine production.
The CLC metallurgical plant relies on an atmospheric leaching process to recover copper from the rich Las Cruces chalcocite ore. A unique feature of the plant is the use of eight OKTOP agitated reactors to dissolve the copper under conditions of high temperature and high acidity. Oxygen is also added into the reactors to complete the reaction. The feed to the leaching reactors is mined ore that has passed through three stages of crushing and a single stage of grinding.
Once leached, the liquid is separated from the ground solids to become PLS, the feed for the solvent extraction (SX) area. In the SX area, the copper is passed to an organic solution and then to the electrolyte that feeds the electrowinning cells. The electrowinning cells produce LME-grade copper cathodes.