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Codelco to extend life of Salvador Division

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Global Mining Review,

After 60 years of history and contribution to the development of Atacama, in 2021 the Salvador Division will install the first stone of its re-founding, following the Codelco board’s approval of US$1.383 million for the construction of the Rajo Inca structural project.

The figure is 33% less than the investment contemplated by Codelco in 2014, thanks to the maximisation and optimisation of the existing infrastructure, especially in the mine areas and the tailings deposit, and the overhaul (corrective and preventive maintenance) of the processes of concentrator and hydrometallurgical plants.

The savings were also achieved through the reuse of mining equipment. When it enters operations, Rajo Inca will require between 25 and 30 300-t capacity trucks, hydraulic shovels and large tonnage front loaders, most of which is coming from other Codelco divisions.

The structural project includes a 22-month pre-stripping period, a period in which the rock without commercial or sterile value that covers the mineral reserves will be extracted, and a 7-month ramp up of the concentrator plant. Therefore, the commissioning will begin in 2H22, to reach a production of 90 000 t in 1H23.

It should be remembered that this work centre faced eventual closure processes in 2011 and 2016, which led to a low level of investment and a deterioration of its assets. In addition, due to the depletion of its current mining reserves and the capacity of its dam, it was obliged to close in 2022.

Following the favourable Environmental Qualification Resolution obtained in February 2020 and the approval of the funds by the board of directors, the structural project will mean a rebirth for Salvador, as it will become an operation with more modern, technological, sustainable and productive operating methods, which will add 47 more years of life to the last mining city-camp in Chile.

During the construction phase, 2476 people per day will be the peak staff; meanwhile, to start moving the mineral, once it is put into operation, the average workforce will be 973 people per day. A 9% increase in employability is expected in the Atacama Region during construction and a 3% increase in regional GDP during its operations.

Salvador in figures

  • 61 years: since 1959, Salvador Division operates with underground mining and 3 small pits.
  • 47 more years of life, starting in 2022.
  • US$1.383 million (in 2020 currency) includes the project.
  • US$6.2 dollars for Chile will be the return on each dollar invested.
  • 50% increase in production: from 60 000 to 95 000 tpy of fine copper.
  • 100% increase in productivity (fine tpy per person).
  • 796 million t of reserves made viable.
  • 0.59% mineral grade.

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