Tailings pipeline at 4,100m ASL

Tintaya Copper Mine Tailings Pipeline System
Industry Sector
Minerals & Metals
Espinar, Peru
BHP Billiton and Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH)
Service Area
Environment & Sustainability; Pipelines; Process Plants
Water Resources; Basic & Detailed Engineering; Start-up & Commissioning; Tailings Pipelines; Tailings Management & Metal Recovery; Water Supply

BHP Billiton’s (BHP) Tintaya Project is an open-pit copper mine with conventional crushing, grinding, flotation, concentrate handling and tailings deposition. The mine is located between Arequipa and Cusco in southern Peru at an elevation of 4,100 m.

In 2000, when the existing tailings impoundment was filling to capacity, a new dam was developed approximately 11 kilometres (km) from the concentrator.

Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) was awarded the environmental and geotechnical work for the new impoundment and in turn selected Ausenco as subcontractor for the tailings line, cyclone station, underflow and overflow distribution system, and the water reclaim system.

Our scope of work included a full range of design, testing and execution support services, including, but not limited to the following system components:

  • Pump station: two trains (one operating, one standby) of seven centrifugal pumps in series, delivering 1,200 m3/h at a pressure of 900 psi of 50% concentration slurry
  • Tailings pipeline: 16-inch diameter, 10.7km bare steel pipeline, partially buried and partially above ground, with a throughput of 6.6 million tonnes per year
  • Cyclone station: used to produce a cut at 200 mesh, with underflow used to build the dam. Vulco’s novel re-cyclone system was selected (first time this was used on tailings)
  • Distribution piping and spigotting system
  • Reclaim water structure and pump station
  • Reclaim water pipeline: 16/12-inch diameter water line to cyclone station and return to mine
  • Power transmission line from the mine to the cyclone station and the reclaim water pump station
  • Gland seal water filtration system.