The Chilean Collahuasi mine in the Pica district of the Tarapacá region produces more than 5,000 tons of fine copper per year, making it one of the largest copper mines in the world.
Two opencast mines, Rosario and Ujina, provide the necessary copper ores, which are smelted on site into copper concentrate and cathodes destined for the Far East and the Chilean copper industry.
Process pumps used in copper production operate under extreme conditions: Copper, a semi-precious metal dissolved in water, quickly oxidizes the materials from which pumps are usually made.
In order to counteract this process, the engineers at Pleuger rely on a corrosion protection concept specially adapted to the customer when designing the pumps. In addition, the new pump systems must be energy-efficient, because Collahuasis copper production follows an energy management system based on international standards.
For enrichment, the mine relies on the ‘flotation’ process, for which the German motor pump manufacturer Pleuger Industries supplied six high-performance pumps.
Thorough acceptance trials The Collahuasie mine’s technical management, along with the pump distributor Wellford, travelled from Chile to Hamburg for the acceptance trails, which took a week. This time factor not unusual when considering the significance of the new submersible motor pumps for the processing of copper sulphide.
The 10 in pumps are used to dewater the copper sludge in the ‘flotation’ process and extract the copper concentrate. If the pumps fail, the production process comes to a standstill until the pumps are repaired. Reliability therefore has top priority. The decision in favour of a pump manufactureris therefore less a question of one-time costs than of confidence in the technical know-how of the engineers.
Decades of experience Pleuger Industries was chosen because the German pump manufacturer has decades of experience in designing pump units for the special requirements of the mining sector. The company’s engineers acquired their expertise in various customizing projects around the globe.