MMG Ltd. reported that the new Las Bambas open-pit copper mine in the Apurimac region of south-central Peru reached commercial on July 1. The pro-
ject is scheduled to produce 250,000 mt to 300,000 mt of copper in concentrate in 2016 as production ramps up. Full commercial production at a rate of 400,000 mt/y will rank Las Bambas among the world’s largest copper mines.
Las Bambas has nameplate concentrator throughput capacity of 140,000 mt/d. The conventional flowsheet includes primary crushing, overland conveying, grinding, pebble crushing, flotation, regrind, thickening, concentrate handling, and tailings thickening and storage. The copper concentrate includes gold and silver byproducts. Concentrate is transported to the Port of Matarani, Peru, across a combined truck and rail network.
Las Bambas is a joint-venture project between the MMG, the operator, (62.5%); a wholly owned subsidiary of Guoxin International Investment Co. (22.5%); and CITIC Metal Co. (15.0%). The companies purchased the project from Glencore for $5.8 billion in cash in August 2014, when project construction was approximately 60% complete.
In addition to project acquisition costs and prior capital expenditure to July 31, 2014, of $7 billion, the joint venture spent $772.4 million from August 1, 2014, to December 31, 2014, and expects costs to mechanical completion to be in the range of $1.9 billion to $2.4 billion from January 1, 2015.
Las Bambas C1 cash costs of production are expected to be in the range of $0.80 to $0.90/lb, positioning it within the first quartile of the global cost curve.
Recent milestones in the development of Las Bambas have included production of first concentrate on November 26, 2015; first shipment of product departing for China on January 1, 2016; and production of 31,470 mt of copper in concentrate in the first quarter of 2016.
MMG CEO Andrew Michelmore said, “Las Bambas is a world-class operation that is transformational to MMG. Its successful ramp up delivers on our commitment to drive value for shareholders. MMG is emerging as a major copper player—continuing to invest in the down cycle with the support of our major shareholder, China Minmetals Corp.”
Las Bambas reserves stand at 6.9 million mt grading 0.73% copper, and resources total 10.5 million mt grading 0.61% copper, sufficient to support a mine life of more than 20 years.
The project has considerable exploration upside, with only 10% of the total land holding explored so far. MMG has initiated an extensive drilling program to further define reserves and resources both within and outside the currently planned pit outlines.