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Case study: Innovative minerals processing plant upgrade and optimisation

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article image Outotec upgrade at the Carmen Copper site

Carmen Copper Corporation engaged Outotec in 2012 as its principal technology partner for the upgrade and modernisation of its processing plant.

Carmen Copper is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation (Atlas Mining), and practices sustainable and responsible mining by adhering to the highest standards in health, safety and environmental performance in its operations. 

Engaged on an EPS basis (Engineering, Procurement and Services), Outotec provided full engineering expertise, including high level concentrator process capabilities as well as its proprietary minerals processing equipment, which was a key component in delivering the targeted expansion of Carmen Copper’s processing capacity. The delivery schedule was extremely ambitious, with Carmen Copper and Outotec working in close partnership towards completion. 

Upon completion of the first phase of the upgrade project, daily throughput is expected to increase from 40,000 tonnes per day to 60,000 tonnes per day.

Outotec engaged a multi-disciplinary team of technical personnel for civil works, mechanical works, engineering design, instrumentation and process engineering. The team worked well with the Filipino engineers of Carmen Copper to meet demanding schedules.

The upgrade was engineered for both greenfield and brownfield stages to allow continuous plant operation. Allowances were also incorporated for future expansion and sustainable, value-adding by-product recovery. 

Point Cloud 3D laser scanning was employed to provide a complete and accurate survey of the vast site. From a detailed engineering perspective, this technology was able to achieve fast, safe and accurate surveying of the complex brownfield plant. The extremely precise 3D scanned data considerably reduced time associated with processing data and images in more traditional ways. 

The close partnership between Carmen Copper and Outotec ensured meticulous planning, enabling the site to remain fully operational at all times. Tie-in points for new equipment and rerouting of pipework, for example, were planned upfront and all disruptive work was completed during shutdowns, ensuring no interruption to production. Procurement was also carried out on a collaborative basis with Carmen Copper to deliver a cost effective and timely result. 

Designed to cope with projected increases in throughput and recovery, Outotec’s new concentrator technologies at site comprise of comminution, flotation, thickening, analyser and DCS systems. Considerably more operator friendly, the upgraded circuit offers easier and safer access. The new system delivers advanced analysis and automation for up-to-the-minute process stability, providing maximum availability and optimised recovery. 

The Carmen Copper expansion project has afforded Outotec a unique opportunity to work closely on a significant brownfield concentrator expansion project. Through collaboration, Filipino subcontractors and partners were utilised for detailed engineering and the Carmen Copper project as a whole has facilitated development of concentrator engineering, procurement and project management. With forward planning, Carmen Copper has the flexibility to undertake further expansions in the future.

Outotec’s project scope for EPS included engineering study, process engineering, detailed civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering, procurement - collaborative scope, mill, civil and site installation advisory services, and on-site engineering support services (mechanical, structural, civil and electrical).

Proprietary equipment supplied for the project included 2 x 6MW ball mills and trommels, complete float circuit (roughers and high-grade cleaners) including 4 x 300m³, 10 x 16m³ cells and blowers, new 39m tailings thickener (tank, bridge, feed, mechanism), retrofit upgrade to 2 x 24m concentrate thickeners, courier analyser, PSI and metallurgical sampling system, and DCS system.

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