Minera Escondida unveils US$590mn tailings project

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, January 12, 2023
Minera Escondida unveils US$590mn tailings project

Minera Escondida, the Chilean subsidiary of the Australian miner BHP, submitted for environmental assessment a US$590mn project to remove 148 million cubic meters of tailings from its Hamburgo area in Antofagasta region, reprocess them at the Laguna Seca concentrator plant and store the material in three dumps, one of which already exists and will be expanded.

Construction would begin in 2025 and operation in 2026, while closure is planned for 2043.

The environmental impact statement submitted to the environmental evaluation service said tailings will be removed using a high-pressure hydraulic method to inject water into the tailings and form a pulp that will be transported by pipeline to Laguna Seca.

Useful life is estimated at 18 years but considers permanent works, such as the installation of electrical lines, substations, sterile dumps, a classification and regrinding plant, pipelines and roads.

Escondida is the world's largest copper mine.

Guidance for this year is 1.08Mt-1.18Mt of copper, achieved through operational improvements at the concentrator plant and in the leaching processes, according to the annual report published in June 2022.

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