Northern Chile

Codelco Gaby Mine Copper Facilities & SX/EW Plant

Fluor performed engineering, procurement, construction management and precommissioning of the $980 million project for Codelco, the world's largest producer of copper.

Client's Challenge

The Gabriela Mistral, or Gaby, mine was a greenfield oxide copper project in remote northern Chile.

Each day, the solvent extraction and electrowinning (SX / EW) plant would produce some 430 metric tonnes of quality copper from the open pit mine.

State-of-the art technology was used in all of the processing facilities, which included those for primary, secondary, and tertiary ore crushing; ore stockpiling; excavation and deposition of ripios (processed material that contains residual copper); acidification; leaching and automated electro winning cell house.

Codelco required that the site manager report directly to both Fluor management and the Codelco project manager. In addition, for every Fluor manager, from line manager to staff manager, there was a Codelco counterpart, enabling the development of relationships between the two companies.

In order for there to be a "distinct entity" working on the project, an office was established in Santiago exclusively for project engineering. Standard procedures and practices were followed as the companies worked together in accordance with Codelco project execution requirements. The project was to be complete 24 months from the start of detail engineering in 1996, a demanding schedule, but one that would enable Codelco to start production to meet the needs of the market.

Fluor's Solution

Controls were strict. Engineering and construction progress was measured on a weekly basis, corrective measures were applied as applicable, and action plans were developed to avoid deviations from the original plan and to comply with the completion deadline.

The project achieved 4.3 million consecutive work hours without a lost-time incident, and Fluor's safety excellence was recognized with an award from Chile's Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERNAGEOMIN) and the Chilean workers compensation company (Mutual Chilena de Seguridad). Seldom earned by construction projects, it was the first such award for a Codelco project.

It served as acknowledgement of the high standards and performance of both companies in executing construction of the mine while creating suitable safety conditions for workers and outsourcing companies.

The open-pit mine and processing facilities were completed on a fast-track schedule from the start of detail engineering to mechanical completion.

Approximately 12 million construction labor hours were expended by a 6,000-person workforce accommodated in a site construction camp.


The project demonstrated the efficacy of Codelco's joint team approach.

It was completed within budget and in 22 months – considered an industry record for engineering, procurement and construction management of a major SX / EW plant.

In 2008, the plant was inaugurated by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.