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Chilean state minerals company Enami's environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a US$1.5mn project to optimize the disposal of leaching residues at its Taltal processing plant in northern region II received approval, a source from the environment ministry's (MMA) regional evaluation office told BNamericas.
The project will use leaching residues already contained at a dump to reinforce the walls of a currently inoperative tailings dam and start disposal of fresh leaching residues at the facility.
The Taltal plant used to produce copper concentrates through flotation and cathodes through heap leaching-SX-EW; however, since 2010 it has only produced the latter.
As a result, the tailings dam has ceased to operate, but the leaching dump has run out of capacity to receive residues from the ongoing processes at the plant.
The company is currently preparing an EIA for an expansion project at the plant, increasing output from the current 200t/m to 300t/m of copper cathodes. The residues optimization project will allow for operational continuity to the plant.