Escondida copper mine in the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile is currently the world’s largest copper mine by reserve. The mine contained more than 32 million tonnes (Mt) of recoverable copper reserves at the end of 2012. Escondida is also the world’s largest copper producing mine, in the financial year ending June 2013 output stood at 1.1 million tonnes (Mt), accounting for about five percent of global copper production. The mine has been in operation since late 1990 and is currently one of the10 deepest open-pit mines in the world. The reserve life of Escondida is estimated to be 54 years.
Cananea, also known as Buenavista copper mine, located in Sonora, Mexico, is the world’s second biggest copper mine by reserve. The open-pit mine was estimated to contain 26.874Mt of copper reserve as of December 2012. A total 200,000t of copper was mined from the pit in 2012. Opened in 1899, Cananea is one of the oldest open-pit mines in North America and is currently owned and operated by the Southern Copper Corporation (SCC), a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico. The mine extracts the porphyry copper deposit lying within the southern Cordilleran region. The ore is refined at an on-site concentrator, which has a milling capacity of 77,000 tonnes per day.
Collahuasi copper mine is 180km south-east of the port of Iquique in northern Chile ranks as the third largest copper mine in the world. Proven and probable copper reserves of the open-pit mine as of December 2012 stood at 25.895Mt. The mine produced 282,096t of copper in 2012, accounting for 5.1% of Chile’s total copper output. The mine produced 245,288t of copper concentrates and 36,808t of copper cathodes in 2012. It has been in operation since 1999. It exploits three mineral deposits, namely Rosario, Ujina and Huinquintipa, in the Pica municipal district of Tarapacá Region. The mine life is 70 years.
Andina copper mine, located 80km north-east of Santiago in northern Chile, is the fourth biggest copper mine in the world by reserve. The mine was estimated to contain 18.8Mt of fine copper at the beginning of 2013. Andina is owned and operated by Chile’s state-owned Codelco (Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile), the largest copper producing company in the world. The copper deposit was discovered in 1920 and mining operations began in 1970.
Toquepala copper mine, situated 870km away from Lima in Southern Peru, ranks as the world’s fifth largest copper mine by reserve. The open-pit mine was estimated to contain 17.65Mt of copper reserve as of December 2012. Southern Copper Corporation (SCC), a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, owns and operates the mine. Toquepala produced about 152,000t of copper in 2012, including 120,000t of copper concentrates and 32,000t of copper cathodes. Ore is extracted from the Toquepala porphyry copper deposit located in the southern-most Andes Mountains of Peru. The extracted ore is refined at an on-site concentrator with a milling capacity of 60,000tpd.
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William P.//SMC Editor