Helping Teck boost copper production in northern Chile
Teck’s Quebrada Blanca mine is located approximately 240 km southeast of the Tarapacá Region’s capital of Iquique near the border with Bolivia and 1,500 km from Santiago, Chile.
In order to extend the mine’s life for at least a quarter century and increase output at one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper resources, Teck approved Quebrada Blanca Phase 2. This brownfield project is part of northern Chile’s metal-bearing system that hosts many of the globe’s top red metal mines.
One of Chile’s largest mining project built in one single stage
Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 as it involves working at four major areas in parallel, from sea level to an altitude of roughly 4,400 meters. The project aims to expand the mine’s current operation by building a new 140,000-tonne-per-day concentrator, which will add 300,000 tonnes of annual copper equivalent production for the first five years.
The new project has significant potential for further growth as it only utilizes a quarter of reserves and resources.
The facilities will be located at three principal sites:
- An inland mine and concentrator at approximately 4,400 meters above sea level
- An inland tailings management facility at approximately 4,000 meters above sea level
- A port site accommodating copper concentrate filtration, storage and ship loading, as well as the seawater intake/outfall, seawater treatment, a desalination plant and the first makeup water pump station
Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 will provide significant economic and social benefits for the country and the region. The project incorporates extensive environmental measures, including the first large-scale use of desalinated seawater for mining in the Tarapacá Region.
Collaborating to innovate and optimize the project
Bechtel and Teck have worked closely since 2011, including on Quebrada Blanca Phase 2’s pre-feasibility and feasibility studies. As a result of this strong collaboration, we have jointly managed to implement key constructability and optimization initiatives focused on mass earthworks, concrete and steel, flotation technology, modularization and consolidation to reduce environmental footprint and address community input.
By cooperating with Teck, we have developed a capital efficient design, and, in the field, we will apply innovative productivity methodologies together to provide the lowest possible construction costs in Chile. The project offers a great opportunity for Bechtel and Teck to deliver industry best results by building the largest copper project in Latin America.
In August 2018, Teck announced the project had received regulatory authorization. In December of the same year, Teck’s board approved the project for full construction and also agreed to sell a 30 percent stake in Quebrada Blanca to Sumitomo Metal Mining and the Sumitomo Corporation. As a result, Teck now owns 60 percent, with the remainder being held by Chile’s state mining company ENAMI.
In December 2018, Bechtel received approval and a full notice to proceed from Teck to commence with the expansion.