Antofagasta said on 7 June that its operations have been disrupted at the Los Pelambres project in Chile’s Coquimbo region after a leak was detected in the underground pipeline that carries its concentrate.
The miner said the leak was detected on 31 May in the line between its concentrator plant and the Los Vilos port and was immediately shut down; the location of the leak was subsequently discovered. A preliminary assessment does not show any indication of environmental damage, and no injuries were reported.
“Full access to the site is currently being blocked by some members of the community who are in discussion with the local authorities and representatives of the company,” the company said. “Once access is obtained the required repairs will be completed.”
Mining operations at Los Pelambres are still active, and its processing plant continues to operate – though both are limited due to the road access restrictions and with the concentrates being stockpiled at the plant.
Once the pipeline is repaired, Antofagasta said, stockpiled material will be transported to the port using the spare capacity in the pipeline, which it noted will lead to some rescheduling of sales and shipments.
“An assessment of the causes of the leak is underway and any resulting recommendations will be applied to the concentrate pipeline and the new replacement pipeline that is currently being designed and permitted, which is expected to be in operation by 2025,” the miner said.
The full-year impact on Antofagasta’s production will depend on the duration of the shutdown, it confirmed. Any capital expenditure in bringing the pipeline back to normal operations is not expected to be material.