Canadian Mining Journal

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COPPER MINING: Quebrada Blanca expansion costs to top US5.5B

CHILE – Vancouver-based Teck Resources, 76.5% owner of the Quebrada Blanca copper-molybdenum  mine 165 km southeast of Iquique in Region I, has filed the latest 43-101 technical report for a project to build a concentrator at the...



CHILE – Vancouver-based Teck Resources, 76.5% owner of the Quebrada Blanca copper-molybdenum  mine 165 km southeast of Iquique in Region I, has filed the latest 43-101 technical report for a project to build a concentrator at the site, a project that has a hefty US$5.594-billion pre-production price tag. The mill will begin operating in 2016, and the Quebrada Blanca 2 project will extend the life of the mine by 30 years, at least to 2047, perhaps 2054.

The project includes building the mill, establishing of a tailings management area, providing electric power, and providing water supplies. The currently operating open pit will be expanded and deepened. The new concentrator will have two grinding lines, with total throughput of 135,000 tonnes of ore per day.

The mill will produce a 26.5% Cu and 60 g/t Ag copper concentrate as well as a 50% Mo product. Teck estimates it will cost US$2.50 per pound to produce copper (as cathode using existing facilities), and US$20.00 per tonne for moly concentrate. With mining cost estimated at US$1.86 per tonne of material moved and processing, general and administrative costs estimated to total US$8.52 per tonne milled, the most expensive aspect of the project is transportation at US$65.00/tonne.

The mineral resource for the expansion is 325.4 million tonnes of inferred material consisting of an enriched portion (13.4 million tonnes at 0.57% Cu and 0.007% Mo), a transition portion (19.8 million tonnes at 0.43% Cu and 0.009% Mo), and a primary portion (292.3 million tonnes at 0.43% Cu and 0.019% Mo).

Probable mineral reserves are 1.4 million tonnes grading 0.50% Cu and 0.018% Mo.

The Quebrada Blanca mine was developed as a heap leach operation by Cominco, and commercial production began in 1994. Teck later bought part of Cominco’s interest, but in 2003 Aur Resources bought both of them out and gained a 76.5% interest in the mine. That share went to Teck when it acquired Aur in 2007.

Operating results from Quebrada Blanca are posted at Teck.com.