Image: Construction Quality Assurance (CQA) services at the “El Mauro” tailings dam

Minerals & Metals2 min read

Construction Quality Assurance (CQA) services at the “El Mauro” tailings dam

Minera Los Pelambres
2021 - 2023

Antofagasta Minerals (AMSA) is one of the largest copper producers in the world. In Chile, AMSA operates four copper mines, including Minera Los Pelambres (MLP).

MLP produces copper and molybdenum concentrate through a milling and flotation process. As part of the process, the tailings produced are stored in the “El Mauro” tailings deposit, which has been in operation since 2008. This tailings deposit has an area of approximately 1,800 ha and a capacity of 2,900 Mt and is one of the most important in Chile and South America.

In 2021, Ausenco worked closely with MLP to deliver Construction Quality Assurance (CQA) services during the construction of the dam's main retaining wall, using cyclone sands. The wall—still under development—will be 235 m in height and 1.4 km in length.

MLP request our support to supervise the construction of the wall and ensure compliance with the design, technical specifications and quality assurance manual established for this project.

Challenges and solutions

Due to project’s location in a challenging ground surface area, our engineering team had to be innovative in how we standardize and implement the high-quality standards of the project.

To meet this challenge, we implemented a laboratory and a specialized work team at the mine site, to test and generate results quickly and accurately. In addition, in close collaboration with MLP and the local communities, we successfully integrated part of the community members into Ausenco's laboratory staff.

Results and achievements

Ausenco exceeded our client’s expectations for the delivery of CQA services during the first two years, both for on-site services and in terms of engineering and geotechnical support.

Our team will continue performing CQA services through 2023 in accordance with the client’s design requirements. In close collaboration with MLP, we will continue monitoring and implementing improvements over the next 24 months.