Fluor delivered more than 45 projects at the Minera Escondida mine site and offsites in Chile. These included feasibility studies, engineering, procurement, and construction management of major processing facilities, pipelines, ports, and infrastructure. The following were highlights of some of the more complex engineering, procurement, and construction management projects at Minera Escondida, all of which were delivered to the established project baselines, and all of which achieved outstanding safety records.
Fluor built the original copper mine, processing plant, support infrastructure, and the Coloso port near the city of Antofagasta. The project in the Andes Mountains included a copper concentrator, crushing and conveying systems, a camp and onsite facilities, and a 200-km power transmission line. A 167-kilometer copper concentrate pipeline, filtering, and port loadout were also part of the original project.
Fluor's first project commenced in 1986 and production began on site in mid-1990. Phase 1 and 2 expansion projects raised the mine and concentrator capacity to 60,000 metric tons per day (tpd) by the end of 1994.Phase 3 expanded the concentrator's capacity by 60,000 tpd to 115,000 tpd, and the scope included in-pit crushing, conveying, grinding, flotation, tailings disposal, and process water facilities; a new 165-kilometer pipeline; and an expansion to the filter plant at the port site.
Fluor provided engineering, procurement, and construction management services for the cathode copper ammonia leach and electrowinning plant located at the Coloso Port, which treated concentrate produced at the mine site. Fluor provided EPC services on the Oxide Leach Project completed in 1998. The facility produced 125,000 tpy of cathode copper.
Fluor's safety record included 3.75 million safe work hours on two occasions. This project was the first Mining & Minerals project to receive Fluor's prestigious Project Excellence Award. The Sulphide Leach Project was completed in 2006, one month ahead of schedule and within 1.5 percent of Fluor's feasibility study estimate. New technological developments allowed Escondida to process low-grade ore.
As part of the Sulphide Leach Project, Escondida pioneered the use of desalination for process water in this arid region of Chile. Water supply originates from the 500-litre-per-second desalination plant constructed by Fluor at the Escondida port site in Coloso. Water is pumped through a 24-inch, 167-kilometer pipeline with four intermediate 12,000-horsepower pumping stations on the route from sea level at the port to an altitude of 3,200 meters at the mine site. During construction of Sulphide Leach, the project achieved 7 million hours without an OSHA lost-time incident – a Chilean record.