Quellaveco copper project is being developed 34km east of Moquegua in southern Peru, with an estimated investment of up to $5.3bn. It is an open-pit mining venture on one of the world’s biggest undeveloped single porphyry copper deposits that has a reserve base of more than 1.3 billion tonnes.

Quellaveco copper mine is owned by Anglo American Quellaveco, a joint venture between Anglo American (60%) and Mitsubishi Corporation (40%).

Anglo American approved the project for development in July 2018 and Mitsubishi too made final investment decision on the project in the same month.

Scheduled to commence operation in 2022, the Quellaveco copper mine is expected to produce 300,000 tonnes (t) of copper a year in the first ten years of operation.

The mine life of Quellaveco is estimated to be 30 years.

Quellaveco copper mine geology and mineralisation

The Quellaveco ore body forms part of the northern portion of the Paleocene to early Eocene porphyry copper-molybdenum belt of the central Andes in southern Peru. The porphyry belt also hosts Southern Copper’s Cuajone and Toquepala mines.

Quellavaco copper project reserves

The Quellaveco copper mine was estimated to hold 898 million tonnes (Mt) of proven ore reserves, grading 0.58% of copper and containing 5,209 kilo tonne (Kt) of copper, as of December 2017.

The probable ore reserves were estimated to be 435Mt grading 0.54% of copper and containing 2.35Mt of copper.

Mining and processing at Quellaveco copper project

Quellaveco will be a conventional open-pit mine involving drill, blast, load and haul operations in the Peruvian Andes, at an altitude of 3,000m above sea level.

The run-of- mine ore will pass through a primary crusher located adjacent to the pit before being conveyed to the coarse ore stockpile of the processing facility in the adjacent Papujune valley.

The crushed ore from the stockpile will be fed to two semi-autogenous (SAG) mills and two ball mills through a twin coarse ore reclaim tunnel before undergoing flotation and concentration at the 127.5-kilo tonne per day (ktpd) concentrator facility for the production of copper and molybdenum concentrates.

The produced concentrates will be trucked to the port of Enersur in Ilo for shipping to destination smelters.

Infrastructure for Quellaveco copper mine

Since the mine site is located on the course of the Asana River, the early site infrastructure development carried out from 2014 included the diversion of the river, which involved the construction of four tunnels totaling 13km in length and three dams of 40m to 85m height.

The main access road from Moquegua to the project site has also been built.

The project also includes four separate construction camps to house 8,400 workers on site, a tailing storage facility, water storage and pipeline system, and associated port infrastructure development.

Contractors involved with the Quellaveco copper project

Fluor was contracted for the early site infrastructure development of the Quellaveco copper project in 2014.

It also secured the engineering, procurement and constructions (EPC) contract for the Quellaveco ore processing facility in August 2018.

Turner and Townsend was engaged for cost and commercial management services for the project in 2010.