Codelco is currently the world’s largest copper producing company with the largest known reserves. Codelco’s operations comprise seven mining divisions, one smelter (Ventanas) and one refinery, with its headquarters located in the city of Santiago. The long-term relationship between Metso and Codelco began more than 90 years ago when the first Metso mill was supplied to their operations in Sewell, Chile. Today, Codelco has Metso equipment installed and producing at their multiple mine sites.
Codelco Andina is located in the Aconcagua – more specifically in the Rio Blanco valley – 3,000 meters above sea level. The Andina division is currently exploiting minerals at two different sites: Rio Blanco, which is an underground mine, and South, which is an open pit mine. The current combined production at the two mine sites is estimated at 220,000 tons of fine copper concentrates and 5,000 tons of molybdenum annually.
Challenge: A crusher supplied more than 35 years ago and installed underground
Finding a solution to the challenge of balancing availability versus cost suddenly became a top priority when Codelco’s 7ft Symons™ crusher with spring system, installed in 1970, started to cause bottlenecks in the mining process. As a result of the mine’s relationship with Metso, the customer trusted that Metso would be able to propose a cost-effective solution to upgrade the machine and improve its productivity. The goal was to renew the crusher to “as-new” condition and to produce at rates seen in Metso’s next-generation models.
According to Eduardo Morín, Codelco Andina’s Process Engineer Specialist and Project Manager: “When an organization identifies a problem but fails to come up with a solution, it can create an environment of routine complacency with the losses – for example, when looking at low utilization rates and high maintenance costs of an underperforming machine. The successful cooperation between Metso and Codelco while carrying out the upgrade on the Symons crusher is a perfect example of how innovation and creativity are the key to solving routine problems.”
To avoid deviations and overruns during implementation, the objectives were outlined and agreed with the customer:
- Increase mechanical availability of their Symons 7ft crusher, aiming to achieve advanced bowl adjustment control automation capabilities.
- Provide greater security and minimize risk exposure by replacing the springs system with hydraulic cylinders.
With these clear goals established, Metso began to map out a plan at the end of November 2015 by running coordination meetings to identify the new design components that were needed and what changes were required on existing components.