Quebrada Blanca Hypogene Expansion

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Copper concentrate and seawater pipeline system

Compañía Minera Teck Quebrada Blanca’s pipeline system is designed to transport copper concentrate from the concentrator to the Punta Patache Norte port facilities area. The system includes a copper concentrate pipeline, make-up and reclaim water system, and tailings transport system.

Ausenco was selected to perform a pre-feasibility study update in Phase 1 of the project and a cost-saving engineering feasibility study in Phase 2.

In Phase 1, the client initially requested that we perform updates on the concentrate and seawater pipeline designs associated with a 41.6 million tonnes per year (Mt/y) copper ore process. Subsequently, the client requested that we perform another update with a new design basis relating to an expanded plant capacity of 46.8 Mt/y.

In addition, we performed three value engineering studies as follows:

  • Optimal internal/external liner design for the seawater pipeline
  • Trade-off study to determine whether the seawater pipeline should be installed above or below ground
  • Trade-off study to determine whether the seawater pipeline should be installed next to the concentrate pipeline or in a separate right-of-way (ROW)

The CAPEX and OPEX estimates (+25%/-20%) were also updated to reflect the new design.

The concentrate pipeline system design included a 172 kilometre (km), 6.625/7.625-inch, HDPE lined concentrate pipeline with the capacity to transport 0.9 - 1.2 Mt/y of copper concentrate. The system also included one head pump station, three intermediate valve/choke stations, four pressure monitoring stations and a terminal station.

The seawater pipeline system included a 172 km, 42-inch, HDPE lined pipeline. The design also featured five pump stations with a maximum flow rate of 1 593 l/s (5 735 m3/h), and submerged intake with sump and vertical turbine pumps. The proposed pipelines were to be buried underground sharing the same right of way. The SCADA system utilised a common fiber optic cable buried in the trench with the pipelines. The study was completed in 2010.

Phase 2

The second phase of the project involved the design of a new copper concentrate transportation system, tailings system, make-up water pipeline and reclaim water system for processing 46.8 Mt/y (135 000 tonnes per day) of hypogene ore in a new concentrator.

Ausenco executed a feasibility study in this phase for the following:

  • 0.9 - 1.2 Mt/y, 160 km, 7-inch copper concentrate slurry pipeline from the Phase II concentrator to the port with one pump station, two choke stations, 2 valve stations, two pressure monitoring stations and an automated control system with leak detection
  • 5 735 m3/h, 160 km, 36-inch unlined desalinated water (make-up water) pipeline from a desalination facility at the port to process water ponds at the concentrator. System included five pump stations and an automated control system.
  • 60 km, 24-inch reclaim water pipeline system from the tailings dam to the concentrator with three pump stations
  • 50 km tailings transportation system from concentrator to the tailings management facility with open channel, rapids and collection boxes to dissipate energy generated by the 2 220 metre drop in elevation

A key achievement in this project included improving the prospective financial outcomes of the project by developing a route for the tailings pipelines which eliminated the low points and reduced the need for a high volume – and high cost – pumping station.

Our scope of work included:

  • Route selection
  • CAPEX (-10%/+15%)
  • Trade-off study to determine whether the water system should be open or closed
  • Trade-off study to determine whether the water pipeline should be lined or unlined
  • Trade-off study to determine the optimal tailings transport system: pressurised pipelines or concrete open channel

Concurrently, Ausenco executed a feasibility study for intermediate storage, port load-out facilities and the seawater intake system at Iquique, Chile.

Our work on Phase 2 of the project was completed in 2012.

Project details

Business line
Process Infrastructure
Compañía Minera Teck Quebrada Blanca
Phase 1 – 2010, Phase 2 – 2012
Solution phase
Engineering, Studies and technical solutions