Codelco will invest a record $4.3 billion this year, compared to $2.5 billion last year. A significant investment is primarily focused on developing Codelco’s new projects; Ministro Hales and El Teniente New Mine Level, which represent $1.1 billion and $399 million, respectively. The company budgeted $234 million for the feasibility work related to the Chuquicamata underground mine.
Andina Expansion 244, RT sulphide mine Phase II and San Antonio Oxides will continue implementing their feasibility study stages. These five key projects will enable Codelco to maintain—and even increase—its current production rate and improve its competitiveness, consolidating its leadership in the global mining industry.
Codelco provided a very positive assessment about the progress of its projects during 2011. The early works construction was completed for the Ministro Hales project. This involved a $150 million investment and an implementation period of 23 months, including, but not limited to, a drainage system for the mine area, transfer of power lines and electrical installations, major road works, housing construction (hospital, offices, bureau de exchange), and the mine truck workshop with a mechanical lubrication shop and wash shop. Also in 2011, two projects were completed that were necessary for the operation of Andina Division and its future expansion: Río Blanco Diversion Tunnel and Water Flow Regularization—Stage I, which jointly totaled $255 million.
The company’s stellar safety performance during early works and project construction, which included high risk jobs such as working with explosives, industrial assemblies at high altitudes, electrical and mechanical jobs, etc., was another important achievement in 2011. Of the11,787,000 hours and an average workforce of 6,029 employees, the Total Frequency Rate was 1.53 and the Total Severity Rate was 40, the best results in the project industry, according to Codelco. The company will continue to focus on the efficient management of its structural projects, i.e., prevent serious accidents occurring and implement projects within deadlines, budget and quality standards. It is a significant challenge, given the complexity of the global market of mining projects, with different simultaneous developments and a high demand for professionals, engineering, services and supplies.
Ministro Hales is currently removing overburden and waste materials from the mine–the world’s large pre-stripping operation with 238 million metric tons—and it is also building the crushing, grinding and flotation plants, the roasting complex, and the sulphuric acid and arsenic abatement plants. They are all scheduled to start operations by mid-2013.
The New Mine Level-El Teniente project, which has had its Environmental Impact Assessment approved and investment authorized, is currently completing its early works, i.e., its Confluence level, where the access roads to its main tunnels will be located. Additionally, at the beginning of this year, project implementation commenced both from inside and outside the mine.
Last year, Chuqui Underground was approved by the board to implement its early works, which were positively recommended by Cochilco–Mideplan. Together, with implementing the feasibility study, it has started the project’s critical path. A $850 million investment, the early works for Chuqui Underground include a series of earthworks and major excavations, such as tunnels that are access roads for workers, and to transport minerals, shafts and drifts for clean air intake and air removal, mine ramps, as well as water networks, power supply, telecommunications and part of the industrial facilities.
The Andina Expansion 244 project has made progress in two sub-projects that form part of its early works–Acid Water Treatment and Node 3,500–and by the end of 2012 its feasibility study should be completed.
The RT sulphide mine Phase II and San Antonio Oxides involves a new concentrator plant that will use desalinated seawater to process the sulphide reserves from the Radomiro tomic mine. In 2011, the project completed its prefeasibility stage and this year will complete its feasibility study.