Image: Lumwana: One of the largest copper mines in Africa

Minerals & Metals2 min read

Lumwana: One of the largest copper mines in Africa

North-Western Province, Zambia
Equinox Minerals (now Barrick Gold)
2006 - 2008

Ausenco worked with Equinox Minerals to build the 20 Mt/y Lumwana Copper Concentrate Project in Zambia – at the time, the largest copper project of its kind in Africa. We delivered the project under a lump sum turnkey EPC contract that included the design, supply, construction and commissioning of the project and all associated on-site infrastructure.

The Challenge

The Lumwana mine is located in the North Western Province of Zambia, 65 km west of Solwezi. With Zambia being a landlocked country, the project required the establishment of new supply-chain networks in South Africa to support the procurement, transportation, and delivery of supplies to site.

The Ausenco team drew on our extensive experience developing cost-effective plants with optimized, fit-for-purpose designs to build an efficient and scalable copper concentrator meeting the highest standards of safety and performance.

  • 50%less structural steel used
  • 75%less concrete used
  • 5 millionperson-hours LTI free

The Better Way

At Lumwana, finding a better way meant looking for solutions that improved operational efficiency and lowered capital costs, while building strong relationships with local suppliers and communities.

Our team identified several capital reduction strategies in the design of the project that would optimize value for the client while also simplifying and expediting construction. This included a simple flow sheet with a 60 x 89 gyratory crusher (the largest proven crusher at the time), 38 ft. diameter SAG mill, and 160 m3 flotation tank cells. The conical stock-pile design included a single reclaim tunnel, providing sufficient capacity for 18-hour storage of product. This compact layout was specifically designed to make optimal use of mobile equipment, minimizing the use of fixed overhead cranes, and greatly reducing the amount of structural steel needed.

The Lumwana project was successfully delivered on time via a lump sum EPC contract, providing our clients with greater cost certainty while eliminating delays that could affect production targets. Construction broke ground in early 2006, with practical completion and handover to Equinox Minerals in November 2008.

The Outcome

The simple flow sheet and compact layout of the Lumwana project resulted in substantial reductions in bulk material requirements - well below industry benchmarks. Structural steel was 50% lower and concrete was 75% lower, reducing the project’s environmental impact overall.

A peak construction workforce of 2,300 personnel was made up of 90% local Zambian labour, with more than 5 million person-hours LTI free.

The success of the project was further evidenced in 2010 when our engineers re-optimized the process plant to 25 Mt/y and were engaged to provide EPCM services for a second 25 Mt/y crushing circuit with associated infrastructure at a new open pit at the site.