Project Spotlight – Codelco’s $1.4B Andina Transfer Project
Codelco has officially inaugurated its $1.4 billion Andina Transfer Project in January. The project took 8 years to construct and turned the underground operation into an open pit mine extending the life by 30 years.
The Andina division is an important part of Codelco’s portfolio delivering 184,000 tons of copper per year, approx.10% of the company’s total output. The company had been processing ore to date from its underground exploitation at the Rio Blanco mine and from the Don Luis open pit mine. The underground mine is projected to finish operations in 2023.
The Andina Transfer Project was considered a major structural project for Codelco which now has a production capacity of 240,000 tonnes of copper per year. The project was designed from the beginning to introduce new innovations and improve sustainability.
At 3,500 above sea level, high in the Andes, the mine was affected by harsh winter weathers and environmental concerns of nearby glaciers. Up until now, the operation had to stop extracting from the pit for at least three weeks a year during the winter months. The new facilities include a world-class avalanche protection system allowing the company to mine 365 days a year, despite snowfall.
- A 52-metre-tall dome that encloses the truck unloading area, protecting the primary crusher from winter temperatures, and preventing dust emissions. The new primary crusher is one of the fourth largest in the world.
- Andina Transfer will also operate with a 4km underground, regenerative ore conveyor belt that will supply over 3.6MW to the division’s electricity network which is the equivalent to powering 10,0000 homes.
- The crushing and ore transportation system will now need only 14 pieces of equipment, down from 50 previously resulting in improvements to the operation and maintenance.
The start-up of this project considers a ramp-up stage of at least four months with the goal of reaching full production by April 2022.
History of Andina
The Andina mine complex is located 80 km northeast of the capital, Santiago, right next to Anglo Americans, Los Bronces mine. Codelco would have had complete control over the district but did not match the US$1.3 billion that Anglo American paid for it in 2002.
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