Ausenco was recently awarded the lumpsum, turnkey Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) contract by Mantos Copper for the Mantoverde Development Project in the Atacama Region, Chile.
Article is based on the original publication “Mantos Copper da luz verde a Ausenco para Proyecto de Desarrollo Mantoverde” in Minería Chilena, with permission.
The contract includes the construction and production ramp up to nameplate, for a 30,000 t/day copper concentrator plant and all related infrastructure, including the process plant, the expansion of the desalination plant and a tailings dam.
Claudio Lesch, Ausenco’s President, South America notes that it is both an honour and a defining moment for Ausenco to be awarded this contract. “This is an innovative contracting vehicle for the Chilean market (a lumpsum, turnkey contract). We will not only be responsible for the design, procurement, construction, and commissioning of Mantoverde, but also the start up and handover to operations,” he adds.
With an investment of more than USD 846 million, Mantos Copper will extend the life of its current operations until at least 2041 while reducing capital and operating costs and increasing production. The contract has a 36-month execution period and employs an efficient and optimised engineering design and lowered carbon emissions.
The Chilean mining industry
For Lesch, Mantoverde is a clear indicator of the increase in activity for Chile’s mid-tier miners. “Currently, we are developing studies for Pucobre's El Espino Project in the Coquimbo Region, Cuprum Resources' Puquios Project in the same area, and Marimaca Copper's Marimaca Project, near Mejillones. We are also seeing a growing demand for studies to develop new gold and copper projects in light of the attractive copper and gold prices and better conditions in the financial markets,” Lesch adds.
Looking ahead, Lesch sees Ausenco’s environment, sustainability and asset optimization consulting services as areas of growth in Chile, in addition to commissioning services.
One of the challenges facing the mining sector in Chile, is the extreme nature of the environment and scarcity of critical inputs, such as water. Lesch notes that there is widespread interest in the industry to address sustainability issues. “We believe our environmental, social and governance services, which ensure the careful use of resources and look at sustainable growth and balanced development, will be attractive to our clients,” he says.
In Peru, Ausenco is the final stages of delivering the Mina Justa EPCM copper project for Marcobre. The project consists of a 6 million mt/y copper sulphide concentrator, a 12 mt/y vat leach oxide facility, and all associated infrastructure with a total investment of USD 1.6 billion. Despite the complications of COVID-19, the project surpassed 10 million person-hours without a Lost Time Incident (LTI), 6.5 million of these hours as part of Ausenco’s EPCM work.
In Chile, Ausenco was able to continue providing commissioning services for BHP's Spence Growth Option (SGO) project and were awarded a similar contract for the commissioning of Teck's Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) project. The team is currently developing field engineering services at QB2.
“These projects reaffirm the added value we provide our mining clients, via services that span mine to port. Our experts combine experience and technology to provide innovative services that meet our clients’ needs,” says Lesch.