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Quellaveco Copper Project Update

Anglo American has provided an update on its Quellaveco mine in Peru. Construction has proceeded this past year and the project is an important part of the Peruvian mining pipeline.
  • Construction of the Vizcachas dam, which guarantees water for the operation, is 98% complete.
  • Pre-finishing works will begin in April.


Anglo American through its subsidiary Minera Quellaveco, a joint venture between Anglo American (60%) and Mitsubishi Corporation (40%), is developing the Project in the Asana River Valley in southern Peru. The project will be an open pit mine that will process 127,500 tonnes-per-day of ore via conventional crushing, grinding and flotation technology to produce 300,000 tonnes of copper per year. First copper production is expected in 2022.

  • Quellaveco, with a price tag of $5.3bn is being developed 34km east of Moquegua in southern Peru.
  • The open-pit operation is one of the world’s biggest undeveloped single porphyry copper deposits that has a reserve base of more than 1.3 billion tonnes.
  • Quellaveco will initially produce 127,500t/y copper and begin production in 2022 before ramping up to full output of 300,000t/y the following year.
  • The project is expected to average cash costs of US$1.05/lb over its first 10 years of full production. That undercuts first-half costs at the company’s Chilean operations Los Bronces (US$1.51/lb) and Collahuasi (US$1.16/lb).
  • The mine life of Quellaveco is estimated to be 30 years.  There is opportunity to further increase the mine life given its estimated additional mineral resources of 1.6-billion tonnes, containing six-million tonnes of copper.
  • The copper deposit has a low strip ratio, softer rock during the first five years of operations, competitive energy costs from hydroelectric power and low transport costs as haulage of most minerals is downhill.
  • A major structural cost advantage is that the orebody has been largely uncovered by river erosion, leading to the very low strip ratio.
  • Quellaveco will produce clean copper concentrate, with exceptionally low arsenic levels compared with the average in Peru.
Digital Mine

  • Quellaveco will be Anglo American’s first 100% digital mine. will have a modern integrated operations center, which will allow running models with artificial intelligence, covering mine geology, storage and dispatch, and facilitate real-time decision-making supported by big data.
  • The mine will also have anti-collision and anti-fatigue systems for vehicles and machinery, as well as autonomous trucks and other systems, simulation models for staff training and automated fleets for heavy transport and drilling, which allow more stable operations


  • Since the mine site is located on the Asana River, early site infrastructure construction in 2014 consisted of diverting the river through four tunnels totaling 13km in length and three dams of 40m to 85m height.
  • Water for the operational phase is from two sources in the High Mountain region.  80% of the water usage will come from the Titire river. The water form the river is unfit for human, livestock or agricultural use due to naturally high levels of salt, boron, and arsenic, and the remaining 20% coming from the dam and reservoir.
  • The main access road from Moquegua to the project site has also been built.
  • Infrastructure works consists of four separate construction camps to house 9000 workers on site, a tailings storage facility, water storage, and pipeline system, and associated port infrastructure development.
  • Anglo has already built the 7.6km Asana River diversion tunnel, the cement platform for the processing plant, workers camp, six water reservoirs with 1.9Mm3 total capacity and a 120,000m3 capacity high mountain area pond and a 53km access road.
  • Anglo is also planning to build a 65,000t warehouse for concentrates, a special conveyor belt, and a ship loader at the port terminal that energy supplier Engie operates at the port of Ilo. 

Mining and Processing

  • Quellaveco will be a conventional open pit mine involving drill, blast, load and haul operations in the Peruvian Andes, at an altitude of 3,000m above sea level.
  • The run-of- mine ore will pass through a primary crusher located adjacent to the pit before being conveyed to the coarse ore stockpile of the processing facility in the adjacent Papujune valley.
  • The crushed ore from the stockpile will be fed to two semi-autogenous (SAG) mills and two ball mills through a twin coarse ore reclaim tunnel before undergoing flotation and concentration at the 127.5-kilo tonne per day (ktpd) concentrator facility for the production of copper and molybdenum concentrates.
  • Allowances for coarse particle separation have been made on the flotation circuits to make it relatively easy to incorporate the more efficient and lower water consumption higher technology into the system.
  • The produced concentrates will be trucked to the port of Enersur in Ilo for shipping to destination smelters.


  • Fluor was contracted for the early site infrastructure development of the Quellaveco copper project in 2014. It also secured the engineering, procurement and constructions (EPC) contract for the Quellaveco ore processing facility in August 2018.
  • Turner and Townsend were engaged for cost and commercial management services for the project in 2010.
  • Anglo American partnered with Caterpillar. Both electric rope shovels and hydraulic mining shovels will handle loading duties at Quellaveco. Cat 7495 Electric Rope Shovels, the largest equipment in the Caterpillar portfolio in Peru, have the capacity to move up to 127,000 t per day. In addition, the mine will operate a Cat 6060B Hydraulic Mining Shovel, the first of its kind in Peru. The shovels will load a fleet of Cat 794AC trucks, one of the newest additions to the Cat large mining truck lineup. The 291 t 794 features an electric-drive powertrain that is Caterpillar designed, integrated and supported.
  • GIW Industries is to deliver four MDX 600 cyclone feed pumps for slurry.
  • DRA Global will carry out the feasibility study (FS) for the coarse particle recovery (CPR) plant.

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BNAmercas. (2021). Project Profile.