Teck Resources held an inauguration ceremony recently to celebrate the start of operations at its new Carmen de Andacollo copper concentrator in Chile. The new concentrator, which reached commercial production in October 2010, has extended mine life by approximately 20 years, increased production capacity, and created approximately 350 new jobs.
Development and construction of the current expansion at Carmen de Andacollo was approved in August 2006 and construction of the mine’s copper concentrator project was completed in late 2009, followed by commissioning and first production in February 2010. In October 2010, the mine achieved commercial production.
The project cost was approximately $440 million and the mine’s production for 2011 is expected to be approximately 65,000 metric tons (mt) of copper in concentrate. In addition, 2011 production of copper cathode is expected to be approximately 7,000 mt. Work is ongoing to optimize the mill circuit of the new plant to increase throughput.
Teck also announced it will undertake a new expansion study to examine the feasibility of adding an additional SAG mill, ball mill, and other associated plant and equipment aimed at increasing annual production at Carmen de Andacollo to approximately 100,000 to 120,000 mt of copper in concentrate. The study will include drilling to confirm additional ore reserves and will address key issues including permitting requirements. The study is expected to be complete by the end of the fourth quarter of 2011.
Teck said it is actively engaged in various projects to expand capacity and increase the working lives of its major copper mines and to develop new copper projects. In Chile, Teck is undertaking a feasibility study, expected to be complete in early 2012, to expand its Quebrada Blanca mine by developing production from the hypogene resource that underlies the supergene deposit. Production is expected to be approximately 200,000 mt/y of copper contained in concentrate plus approximately 5,100 mt/y of molybdenum in concentrate over an estimated mine life of approximately 30 years. Assuming a positive feasibility study and a decision to undertake project development, production from the concentrator could commence in 2016.
Also in Chile, the undeveloped greenfields deposit at Relincho is under study and has the potential to become a major copper-producing asset. The prefeasibility study is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2011. Teck said Relincho has the potential to produce approximately 190,000 mt/y of copper in concentrate and 7,000 mt/y of molybdenum in concentrate over an estimated mine life of over 20 years.