Compania Minera Cerro Colorado Hemp Leach Solution Heating

Location:  Iquique, Chile
Year Completed: 1995
Deliverables: 10 MM BTU/hr raffinate solution heater

Project Overview


In 1995 Inproheat supplied a 10 MM BTU/hr raffinate solution heating system for a copper mine in Iquique, Chile operated by Compania Minera Cerro Colorado, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton Ltd. This large copper mine is situated in a remote location at 2,500 meter elevation above sea level. A two hour drive east from Iquique takes a visitor deep into the mountainous barren landscape. Long conveyors bring the ore into the primary and secondary crushers.

Crushed ore is then sent to aglomerator where marble-size to golf-ball-size ore nodules are formed. Nodules are conveyed to heap pads where they are stacked 50 feet high. Raffinate solution is constantly circulated to the heaps through piping system and as it contacts the ore body it leaches the copper out. Raffinate is then collected at the bottom of the pads and pumped for processing into copper via solvent extraction and electrowinning process.

Before the raffinate solution is circulated to the heap pads it has to be heated from 15 to 35 deg C to increase its leaching potential. The primary source of energy for the mine is the No. 2 diesel fuel. Propane is available in limited quantities.