Chilean mines invest in underground expansion Jul 2012
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
Strabag is awarded the €100 million (US$123million) contract to excavate access tunnels and shafts at the world's largest copper mine in Chile.
Open pit mine heading underground

Open pit mine heading underground

The Austrian construction company, alongside its subsidiary Züblin Chile and local partner Mas Errazuriz Construcciones SA, will excavate 18 adits for a total of 9.6km and sink five access shafts totalling 1,500m for development of the Chuquicamata copper mining operation owned by Chile's giant mining company Codelco.
"Excavation by drill+blast is expected to start in October (2012)," explained a Strabag spokeswoman to TunnelTalk. "The tunnels range between 4m and 11.27m in diameter, and the shaft diameters range from 2.5m to 5.1m."
Hans Peter Haselsteiner, CEO Strabag, said: "In markets outside of Europe, we work on selective projects which require special technical know-how."
The Chuquicamata mine, and its nearest city, Calama, is located in one of the driest places on earth, in Chile's Atacama Desert approximately 1,650km north of the capital city Santiago. Codelco is the largest copper-producing company in the world and will extend the productive life of the Chuquicamata mine by taking operations underground.
Excavation is scheduled to be complete in 2015.
Award of the new contract comes five months after state-owned Codelco awarded Astalidi (Italy) a US$155 million contract for excavation of another 13.7km of access tunnels and 3,500m of ventilation shafts at another of the two mines on the Chuquicamata site. In September 2011, Vinci of France was awarded a US$400 million contract, also by Codelco, to design and build two 9km long access tunnels into a new ore deposit at its El Teniente mine high in the Chilean Andes.

Sharing US$677 million of Codelco, Chile, mine investment

It was in the following month (October, 2011), that Codelco announced plans to spend $875 million on advance works at the Chuquicamata copper mine, which until recently was the world's largest annual producer of copper. The open pit facility is the world's largest at 4.3km long, 3km wide and more than 850m deep.
Chuquicamata was expected to close operations next year (2013), but the $2 billion redevelopment will switch production underground (starting in 2018) and increase the ore-extraction depth by an additional 787m by the scheduled end of production in 2060.
Conceptual engineering studies were finalised in 2009, and design consultancy Hatch Mott MacDonald is overseeing the engineering, tunnelling, access and ventilation works that will be needed as part of the enabling infrastructure.
Contract win seals Astaldi's Chilean ambitions - TunnelTalk, February 2012
New access drives for mighty mine operation - TunnelTalk, September 2011
Chilean mine invites access project proposals - TunnelTalk, November 2009
Strabag maintains its underground edge - TunnelTalk, May 2012

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