Image: Las Bambas: Copper concentrate pipeline in the Peruvian Andes

Minerals & Metals2 min read

Las Bambas: Copper concentrate pipeline in the Peruvian Andes

Cotabambas, Peru
Xstrata (Bechtel)
2007 - 2012

The Las Bambas copper mining project – currently one of the largest long-life copper greenfield projects in the world – is located in Cotabambas, Apurimac region of Peru, at 4,200 metres above sea level. Las Bambas has significant Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves of copper, gold, silver and molybdenum and, once in production, is estimated to have a mine life in excess of 20 years.

Ausenco was originally selected to provide conceptual, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies for the project’s proposed slurry pipeline which would transport copper concentrate from the Las Bambas mine site to the Antapaccay mine site, and then finally to a terminal port on the coast of Peru.

Based on our performance of the first phase of this project, we were subsequently retained to provide basic and detailed engineering for the final design of the 215km, 1.8 million tonnes per year (mt/y) concentrate pipeline.

Pre-feasibility study

Our scope for the pre-feasibility study, contracted through Xstrata Tintay S.A., included review of route options and generation of a preliminary design for the proposed pipeline, which would deliver copper concentrate to Matarani, Pescadores or San Juan.

The study included:

  • Route option analysis
  • Route selection and preferred route recommendation
  • Route maps
  • Design basis
  • Hydraulic analysis
  • PFDs
  • Preliminary equipment list
  • Preliminary control and operating philosophy

The pre-feasibility study was completed in 2007.

Feasibility study

Our scope for this phase included investigation and evaluation of the possibility of constructing a long-distance, 174km, 8-inch concentrate pipeline from the Las Bambas mine site to the Antapaccay mine site. Transport from Antapaccay to Matarani would then be completed by train.

The Las Bambas to Antapaccay pipeline system included four pump stations with storage tanks. The nominal copper concentrate throughput was 1.8 mt/y at a concentrate weight of 65 Cw% and a flow rate of 188 m³/h.

Deliverables for the feasibility study included:

  • Design basis & hydraulic reports
  • Technical specifications
  • PFDs/UFDs/P&IDs
  • Pipeline route profile & plot plan drawings
  • Mechanical/electrical equipment lists
  • Geohazard/environmental strategic reports
  • Operating & control philosophy
  • Electrical, SCADA & telecommunication systems diagrams
  • CAPEX/OPEX & contingency analysis.

This study was completed in 2009.

Basic and detailed design

In 2010, Ausenco was further retained on a sole source basis to perform the basic and detailed engineering of the concentrate pipeline.

The final design included a 215km, 8-inch diameter, HDPE-lined steel pipeline which utilises four pump stations to transport 1.8 mt/y of concentrate.

Our work included the finalisation of the hydraulic design, mechanical design, pipeline engineering and a definitive capital cost estimate.

The engineering phase was completed in 2012, and as at 31 March 2015, overall construction was 90% complete.

MMG expects first production of concentrate in the first quarter of 2016.

In its first full year of operation it is expected to be one of the top three copper producing mines in the world.