Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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62 E&MJ • AUGUST 2018 www.e-mj.com MINING IN PERU Copper: Closing the Gap with Chile Peru strengthened its copper output in 2017, reaching 2.45 million tonnes Since 2012, Peru has increased its copper production every year and 2017 was no different. After the spectacular increase of 2016, driven by the expansion of Cerro Verde and the addition of MMG's Las Bambas, out- put increased by a moderate 3.9% last year, with a total output of 2.45 million metric tons (mt) of fine copper. Cerro Verde is still the largest producer of copper with 501,800 mt/y, followed closely by Las Bambas, which achieved its first year of full production with 454,000 mt/y, a 37.5% increase from its 2016 figures. Peru's third giant copper unit is Antamina, which yielded 439,200 mt/y. Suresh Vadnagra, president of Minera Las Bambas, commented on the mine's per- formance on its first year of full commercial production: "Our C1 cost of US$0.99 posi- tions us as one of the lowest cost produc- ers. In 2017, we took some fairly aggressive steps to establish efficiency as the baseline of Las Bambas, which is something that does not normally happen in the first year of production." Vadnagra anticipated that the copper operation, located in Apurimac, will yield between 410,000 and 420,000 mt of cop- per in 2018, at a C1 cost between US$1/lb and US$1.10/lb. "Our focus is very much on building on the success of 2017 into the fu- ture years," he continued. "Las Bambas has enormous potential for brownfield growth – this includes the development of further sat- ellite pits and resource expansion. The Las Bambas tenement has 35,500 hectares, and so far we have explored less than 10% of it." Other copper mines that produce more than 100,000 mt/y include Glencore's An- tapaccay (206,500 mt/y), Chinalco's Toro- mocho (194,700 mt/y), Southern Copper's two units (Cuajone at 161,100 mt/y and To- quepala at 145,000 mt/y) and Hudbay Min- erals' Constancia (121,800 mt/y). Javier Del Rio, VP South America at Hud- bay, explained how the company is introduc- ing digitalization to integrate the mine with the process plant: "We have cameras at the apron feeder, and a particle size analyzer that provides real-time information on the particle size in microns going through the flotation circuit. Additionally, we have flota- tion cameras that measure the bubbles' for- mation, size, color and speed. All this needs to be integrated so we can respond to the ore coming from mother nature on real time. Once we have the material at the flotation cell, it is too late to react." Hudbay expects the surrounding areas in Constancia to substantially extend mine-life. The company plans to put the Pampacancha satellite deposit into production next year, and has also acquired other properties nearby (Ca- ballito, Kuriorcco and Maria Reyna). "The big picture is to have Constancia running for not just another 14 years, but for 30 years if pos- sible. This is why we are focusing on brown- field exploration. Constancia was not the fin- ish line for Hudbay in Peru, but the starting point," said Del Rio. While the aforementioned mines account for the bigger chunk of Peru's copper produc- tion, there are also some interesting medium-

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