Codelco's $4billion underground copper mine development on track for 2019 production date

By Dale Benton
Work on a $4billion development of copper mine in Northern Chile is on track for production to begin in 2019, a manager at state-owned copper company Co...

Work on a $4billion development of copper mine in Northern Chile is on track for production to begin in 2019, a manager at state-owned copper company Codelco said Tuesday.

Codelco is converting the Chuquicamata open pit copper mine into an underground mine, with progress well under way on the project to become the largest electromechanical system in the world.

Tunnel builders are close to completing the 900-meter-deep extraction shaft, with transport, air injection and access tunnels are complete or near completion. The progress of the development means that mass construction of the network of tunnels can continue without interrupting operations.

The development will see 143 km of tunnels and 19 km of conveyor belts with the capacity to haul 150,000 mt/day of crushed rock 900 meters up to the surface.

"By the time it is finished it will be the world's largest electromechanical system," Carrasco said.

The development project will transform the century-old mine in the world's largest open pit mine into an underground operation, by the method of operation of block caving, extending the mine life of the Chuquicamata mine for 40 years.

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