The following is based on two previously published articles from Diario Financiero and El Mercurio.

“When delivered in the first quarter of 2024, the Mantoverde copper plant will operate with a capacity of 11.6 Mt/y with a design that ensures sustainability both during construction and in operation”.

Unlocking minerals responsibly

The sustainable and responsible delivery of minerals is one of the greatest challenges facing the mining industry as we transition to clean energy. Latin America, a region that accounts for 40% of the world's copper production, is faced with responding to the growing demands of the energy transition market by promoting "green mining".

In 2021, we were awarded the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract to deliver Capstone Copper’s exciting Mantoverde project located in the Atacama Region of Chile.

Delivering a world-class copper project

At the outset of the Mantoverde project, our team challenged earlier iterations of the concentrator plant design by proposing some big changes – relocating the primary crusher, redesigning the stockpile reclaim tunnel, revising tailings handling and optimizing grinding and flotation processes.

The result? A 30-35% decrease in the overall plant footprint compared to the original feasibility study ultimately reducing earthworks excavations, cubic meters of concrete needed, as well as the amount of steel used for construction. For context – the new, efficient plant size allows for travel on foot rather than by vehicle. It also translates into a safer site and reduces capital and operating costs.

“The smaller footprint of the plant also means less water and material transportation are required during construction, and lower demand for bed capacity in the construction camp,” explains María Paz Núñez, Vice-President of Ausenco Chile. “Overall, the efficient and optimized design reduces the environmental impact of the project both during construction and operation - significantly reducing carbon emissions over the project’s life cycle.”

When it came to redesigning the tailings system, our experts added an additional thickener to the plant allowing for the immediate recovery/recycling of process water. This reduced the diameter of tailings and water pipes needed, with slurry to be pumped at 55% solid rather than 30%.

Final stages

“The project has been a team effort in every sense of the word. At Ausenco, we led the work from our office in Chile, and were supported by our technical experts in Australia and Canada. This integrated team approach brings together the best minds to find the right solutions,” said María Paz. “Our commitment to working together extends to the strong and transparent relationship we have with Capstone Copper and our contractors. These relationships are pivotal to the success of a project.”

Excited to enter the final stages of construction, the team are mobilizing commissioning and start-up specialists onsite, and look forward to safely delivering an exceptional project to Capstone Copper very soon.

The big picture

Sustainable or green mining involves reducing the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impacts of a mining operation. This involves thinking about and introducing more efficient and sustainable practices from project concept through to commissioning and operation.

“ESG is something we always consider when helping our clients develop projects to meet their sustainability goals,” said María Paz.

The Mantoverde project is a promising example of this vision to reduce environmental impact and maximize investments for our clients around the world.

To learn more about Mantoverde and how we can help you deliver breakthrough results, contact María Paz Núñez.