Codelco adds 30 years to Andina copper mine

Andina division. (Image courtesy of Codelco.)

Chile state-owned copper miner Codelco has cut the ribbon at its $1.4 billion Andina Transfer project at its namesake division, which allows the world’s largest copper producer to extend the life of the asset for another 30 years.

The project turned the underground operation into an open pit mine located 3,500 metres above sea level nestled in the Andes Mountains – which hold 30% of Chile’s copper reserves.

Construction took eight years and included a 52-metre-tall dome that encloses the truck unloading area, protecting the primary crusher from winter temperatures and preventing dust emissions.

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, reducing energy consumption from external sources.

The crushing and ore transportation system will now need only 14 pieces of equipment, down from 50 previously needed.

Andina Transfer’s production capacity is set at 240,000 tonnes of copper per year. Until now, the division had annual production of 184,000 tonnes of the metal, representing only 10% of Codelco’s total output.

The operation is currently in the commissioning phase and the ramp-up stage will begin in February.

Chile, the world’s largest producer of the metal used in everything from construction to electric vehicles and renewable energy, accounts for nearly 30% of the world’s output.

The nation expects to receive almost $69 billion in mining investments through the end of the decade, down 6.9% from the previous forecast, state copper commission Cochilco said in November.

Andina Division is located in a complex geographic area, high in the mountains, where temperatures in winter reach about 20 degrees below zero. (Image courtesy of Codelco | Flickr.)