Global miner BHP inaugurated a new copper concentrator plant on May 13 at its Spence operation in northern Chile, which will extend the life of the mine for another 50 years.
The project required an investment of US$2.46 billion and has a throughput of 95,000 t/d to produce copper concentrate and molybdenum concentrate. The miner said the project supports its intention to continue growing in Chile while strengthening its global copper portfolio.
“This is a significant moment for BHP in Chile, where we have been for more than 30 years and we want to continue on this path of joint development and collaboration,” said CEO Mike Henry.
“We need to continue working with industry, government, and communities to continue development in a safe, sustainable manner, and to create value for everyone along this way.”
On a technical level, water for the new concentrator is supplied by a desalination plant located in Mejillones, which allows Spence to operate exclusively with desalinated seawater, and power for the concentrator is fully supplied from renewable sources.
Added to this is the implementation of new flotation technology, which BHP said uses 60% less energy and occupies 50% less space than conventional plants. This will generate lower energy consumption and reduced emission of greenhouse gases.