Southern Peru Copper Corporation
Mina Cuajone, Peru

Southern Peru Cuajone Copper Mine - EPC

The Cuajone mine, located in the rugged Peruvian Andes at 12,000 feet, was the largest single copper mine and smelter complex ever built.

Fluor provided detailed engineering, procurement and construction management services along with training for 7,000 peak local workers.

Client's Challenge

Cuajone mine complex was developed by Southern Peru Copper Corporation and covers a considerable surface topography. The 1,600-square-mile mining triangle begins with a water supply at Lake Suche at 14,500 feet in the Andes and ends with a smelter on the South Pacific coast.

The lure of this 12,000-foot high desert site is a 470-million ton deposit of sulfide copper ore. The ore body is buried by a billion tons of rock overburden. One fourth of the rock needed to be removed before mining could begin.

The remote and expansive desert site, where no roads, housing, communications, or utilities existed, required all the infrastructure and industry to be constructed. The superstructure included the mining operation, crushers, grinding circuits, flotation, tailings thickeners, smelters, and power plants.

Cuajone ore travels by rail six miles to the concentrator at Botiflaca, at 11,000 feet. There, the one-percent copper ore is processed to 30 percent product at the 45,000 tons per day concentrator. Next, the ore product travels 135 miles to the expanded smelter at Ilo to be converted to blister copper for export.

Fluor's Solution

Cuajone, at the time of development, was the largest base metal mining project ever built by a single contractor.

Fluor was responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction management of the project. Fluor also provided feasibility studies, the basic mine plan, removal of over 250 million tons of overburden and initiation of the mine operation.

The infrastructure accounted for 50 percent of the total cost. Fluor built 62 miles of new railroad track, including 17 miles of tunnels. Of the five tunnels hewn, one is 9.15 miles long, the 4th longest in the world. Over 90 miles of new roads and expanded town communities in Cuajone, Botiflaca, and Ilo were created for new permanent housing, utilities, hospitals, schools, fire stations, and support services.

Power generation and transmission are vitally important to this remote site. Two hydro stations at the base of Lake Suche and the Ilo thermal power plant new 66-megawatt steam turbine generator provide electricity to a 138,000 volt closed loop transmission system. Waste heat is used for turbine generation and to flash evaporate seawater desalination plants for potable Ilo water supply.

To complete this huge complex on schedule, Fluor provided specialized training to more than 4,500 local workers.



Today, Cuajone mine produces 200,000 TPY of copper.

It is one of the largest base metal mine complexes in the world.

The site operation starts at Lake Suche 14,500 feet in the Andes and concludes at the Ilo smelter on the Pacific Coast over 140 miles away. The open-pit mine itself is 6,500 feet wide and more than 2,500 feet deep. The expanded smelter serves both the Cuajone and the nearby Toquepala mines.

Cuajone's ambitious development in an extremely remote, rugged, and high-altitude environment presented epic challenges.

Fluor provided infrastructure, power, metallurgical and logistical solutions to deliver this world-class mining complex.