MMG Ltd. began commissioning the Las Bambas copper mine in southern Peru in the fourth quarter of 2015 and started shipping copper concentrate in mid-January as part of the commissioning process. Project construction was essentially complete as of late January, with remaining activities largely associated with the molybdenum concentrator and new facilities at the Port of Matarani.
MMG expects Las Bambas to produce 250,000-300,000 metric tons (mt) of copper in concentrate in 2016 as commissioning progresses and production ramps up. Full commercial production at a rate of 400,000 mt/y of contained copper is scheduled for the second half of 2016 and will rank the mine among the world’s largest copper producers. Las Bambas copper concentrate will include gold and silver byproducts.
C1 cash costs are expected to be within the range of $0.80/lb to $0.90/lb of copper once the plant is at a steady state of production.
Las Bambas is a joint venture project between MMG, the operator, (62.5%), a wholly owned subsidiary of Guoxin International Investment Co. (22.5%), and CITIC Metal Co. (15.0%). The joint venture companies purchased the project from Glencore for $5.8 billion in cash in August 2014, when project construction was approximately 60% complete.
Work to ramp up to nameplate concentrator throughput capacity of 140,000 mt/d will continue over the coming months. The conventional plant flowsheet includes primary crushing, overland conveying, grinding, pebble crushing, flotation, regrind, thickening, concentrate handling, and tailings thickening and storage. Concentrate is transported to the Port of Matarani across a combined truck-and-rail network.
Las Bambas reserves currently 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 existing planned pit outlines.