Multibillion Dollar Quellaveco Project Begins Copper Production in Peru

Back in 2012, Anglo American reached an agreement with the Peruvian community on various aspects of the Quellaveco Copper Mine project. This included water usage, environmental usage, social responsibility and the establishment of fund to finance social outreach projects around the region.

The project is being developed 34km east of Moquegua town in Southern Peru, with an estimated investment amount which could possible reach up to $5.5 billion. This greenfields project is one of Peru’s largest, and an open-pit mining venture on one of the world’s biggest, undeveloped, single porphyry copper deposits with a reserve base of more than 1.3 billion tonnes.

Quellaveco is the centerpiece of Anglo American’s growth strategy for copper production. When running at its full potential, this mine is expected to produce 300,000 tonnes of copper per year during its first ten years of operation

Arnot Coal Powerstation
Installations of the Quellaveco copper mine in the Moquegua region of Peru.
Credit: Fluor EPC Corporation

First copper production at Quellaveco is a key milestone in our delivery of this world-class asset, on time and on budget

Tom McCulley

CEO Anglo American Peru

Addressing Peruvian Sustainability Challenges

The Anglo-operated project is located in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, at an altitude of 3,000m above sea level. Because drought is a constant concern in Peru, Quellaveco’s open pit mine faces a set of unique challenges. The Asana River, where the ore is located, supplies water to Moquegua and nearby regions. 

According to Copper Aliance, in order to reduce its environmental and societal footprint, Anglo American will not use water from the major Asana River, maintaining its integrity as a freshwater source for the surrounding communities. Instead, the Quellaveco will use approximately 18 million cubic meters of water from the Titire River in Peru’s High Mountain region, which contains natural arsenic and boron due to its volcanic origins, making the water unsafe for agriculture and human consumption.

Furthermore, Anglo invested in the construction of a dam and reservoir in Vizcachas to collect excess rainwater for mineral processing and to provide additional water to local communities.

It’s Time for Digitalization

With innovation being one of Anglo American’s core values, Quellaveco will be the first 100% digital mine in the country – the mining major says – by integrating a cutting-edge operations center that will be running artificial intelligence models encompassing mine geology, planning, storage, and dispatch to facilitate real-time decision-making supported by big data.

At Quellaveco mining operations, energy-efficient electric equipment will be used to further boost automation and efficiency, which will once again drive sustainability.

Part of the initiative was to deploy automation-ready equipment including production drills, 30 specialized electric mining trucks, high-capacity electric rope and hydraulic shovels to leverage production and drive down energy costs.

We’re pre-mining as an autonomous mine, the first in Peru and the first in Anglo American to do that. It’s a milestone for the country and for the company. It’s fantastic!

Simon Williams

Site Mine Manager at Quellaveco

Looking to further digitalize, the Stockpile and Inventory Optimization Application (SIO) from IntelliSense.io has already been deployed at the Quellaveco operation. Now the ore is being tracked from pit to dumping areas and the app is providing near real-time 3D ore control models of stockpiles, to ensure optimal mine planning and accurate material handling which will further optimize upstream and downstream processes.

On the mineral processing side, Anglo will be applying Coarse Particle Recovery (CPR) technology to enable the flotation of coarser ore particles (2.5 times larger in size), aiming to reduce the energy required for ore grinding, increase throughput and water recovery. By using this same energy-saving method, Anglo American’s El Soldado mine in Chile was able to recover 85% of its water, enhance savings by 30%, use 30% less energy, and increase production rates by 20% (Copper Alliance, 2021).

A World of Possibilities

The mining industry can benefit and gain competitive advantages by deploying digital technologies and data analytics to optimize operations, asset performance and reduce risk. Quellaveco project stands out as a world-class example of how digitalization in mining can be rewarding not only in terms of efficiency, but also of sustainability.

Nevertheless,  the mining industry as a whole still needs to overcome the barriers of its operations, which are often divided into individual operational silos with ineffective integration between mine, processing and transport.  When processes from the mining supply chain are connected, it brings about greater scope for change and an opportunity to find new efficiencies that drive positive results. To overcome these barriers and achieve an effective digital transformation, it is essential to focus on systems, processes and, above all, the resources and mindset required.

In light of this, at IntelliSense.io we have focused on helping miners to  run their mine & plant at its optimum state, increasing net metal production in the most sustainable, efficient and safe way. Therefore, our process optimization apps can be deployed to address a specific process bottleneck or expanded across the entire value chain to optimize overall mine-to-market efficiency. Covering both the digital mine and digital plant, our apps are powered by our Industrial Scientific AI* Decision Intelligence Platform, brains.app.

*Scientific AI is the fusion of physics models with machine learning techniques. It was developed by Intellisense.io to further increase net metal production through the use of our AI solutions.

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