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Quebrada Blanca

Quebrada Blanca

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Key Facts

Commodity Copper

Tarapaca, Chile
Nearest Landmark: IQUIQUE
Distance: 170 Km SE from the nearest Landmark
Latitude: 21° 0' (South)
Longitude: 68° 48' (West)


Satellite Image


Teck Resources – 76.5%
Inversiones Mineras S.A. – 13.5%
Empresa Nacional de Mineria (ENAMI) -10%

Operator Compania Minera Teck Quebrada Blanca S.A.

Copper - 139.5 Mlbs (2011)

Deposit Type Porphyry copper
Reserves & Resources

Copper - 603.9 Mlbs (December 2011)

Mine Type Surface
Mining Method Open pit
Processing Method Heap leach
Mine Life To 2016 (possible 2045)
Mining Equipment Truck & shovel
Processing equipment  Crushers, SX-EW
Contact Information Vivar 493, Piso 2 y 3Iquique,
CHILE I Region
Phone:+56 (57) 528-200
Fax:+56 (57) 528-264

Last updated: July 11, 2012


The Quebrada Blanca copper mine is located at 4,400 metres elevation in northern Chile approximately 240 kilometres southeast of the port city of Iquique and 1,500 kilometres north of the city of Santiago, the capital of Chile.

Quebrada Blanca is an open pit operation, which leaches the ore to produce copper cathodes via a SX-EW process. Copper cathode is trucked to Iquique for shipment to purchasers.

Teck owns a 76.5% interest in the mine. The remaining interest is owned by Inversiones Mineras S.A., 13.5%, and Empresa Nacional de Minera, 10%.

In 2011, the mine produced a total of 139.5 million pounds copper.

A feasibility study focused on increasing copper production to 200,000 tonnes per year copper in concentrate and 5,000 tonnes of molybdenum per year is expected to be completed in 2012.


The Quebrada Blanca mine is located in northern Chile approximately 240 kilometres southeast of the port city of Iquique and 1,500 kilometres north of the city of Santiago, the capital of Chile. The Quebrada Blanca property is located approximately 4,400 metres elevation above sea level.

Chile is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The northern desert contains great mineral wealth, principally copper.

The Quebrada Blanca concession consists of 80 square kilometers of mining rights and a total of 3,150 hectares of exploration rights.

The local topography is represented by rounded hills disrupted by steep gulches. Vegetation cover consists of sparse tufts of grass and small shrubs. Access to the mine site is via road from Iquique.

Mine personnel live in a camp facility and the majority commutes from large population centres, including Iquique and Santiago.

Geology & Mineralization

The Quebrada Blanca orebody is a porphyry copper deposit located in a 30-40 km wide belt of volcanic and sedimentary rocks which contains a number of the world’s largest copper mines including Collahuasi (10 km to the east) and Chuquicamata (190 km to the south). All of these deposits are spatially related to a major north-south fault, the West Fissure Fault, or to splays off this fault. 

The Quebrada Blanca orebody occurs within a 2 km by 5 km quartz monzonite intrusive stock. Supergene enrichment processes have dissolved and redeposited primary (hypogene) chalcopyrite as a blanket of supergene copper sulphides, the most important being chalcocite and covellite, with lesser copper oxides/silicates such as chrysocolla in the oxide zone. The supergene mineralization averages 80 metres in thickness and is, for the most part, overlain by a 100 metre thick, low grade or waste leached cap and unmineralized rock and gravels. Irregular transition zones, with (locally) faulted contacts separate the higher and lower grade supergene/dump leach ores from the leached cap and hypogene zones.

As of December 2011, proven and probable reserves stood at 141 Mt grading 0.39% copper for 603.9 million pounds copper.


Mining & Operation

Quebrada Blanca (QB) is a conventional open pit mine that produces an average of 22,000 tonnes per day of heap leach ore and 39,000 tonnes per day of lower grade dump leach ore.

In 2011, the mine produced 139.5 million pounds of copper.

The supergene/oxide mineralization is expected to be mined out by 2016, and mining is to be focused on the hypogene mineralization in a mine and processing facility expansion.

The Quebrada 2 expansion project is based on the processing of hypogene sulphide resource that has been delineated by over 134,000 metres of drilling. The deposit is open at depth and on strike.


Copper bearing solutions are collected from the heap and dump leach pads for processing in an SX-EW plant which produces copper cathode. The SX-EW plant has a design capacity of approximately 75,000 tonnes of copper cathode per year, but has been producing at a rate above this nameplate capacity. Copper cathode is trucked to the port of Iquique for shipment to purchasers.

As process water the mine uses seawater that is recycled and recirculated as much as possible.

The copper cathode production is supposed to end in 2018 and focus would be shifted to processing the hypogene mineralization through flotation – i.e. the Quebrada Expansion project.

The Quebrada Expansion Project feasibility study is focused on increasing copper production to 200,000 tonnes per year copper in concentrate and 5,000 tonnes of molybdenum per year is expected to be completed in 2012. The copper concentrator is to be built at 4,300 m elevation and would have a nameplate capacity of 135,000 tonnes per day. The tailings facility would be at 2,300 m above sea level and would be able to hold 2 billion tonnes of tailings.

The study included conceptual design options for mining the hypogene resource, a copper concentrator with a by-product molybdenum recovery circuit and associated infrastructure necessary to support development and transportation of copper and molybdenum concentrates to the market. Concentrate would be delivered to the port by a 8” 165 km pipeline. A 36” water line would carry water from port area to mine site. Another 60 km 24” line would transport reclaim water from tailings to mine.

Quebrada Expansion Project crushing and milling equipment include a 60’X113’ primary crusher, two 40’ X 22’ SAG mills, and four 26’ X 42’ ball mills.

Environment & Community

Teck works hard to protect the environment and always strive to act with care and sensitivity towards our surroundings. Its people take this responsibility seriously and show dedication towards environmental stewardship.

Teck is committed to community engagement and investment in the places where they live and work. Through early, meaningful engagement, it aims to develop open, honest and respectful relationships and partnerships with the communities in which we explore, construct and operate. 


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Marcotte Mining Machinery Services Inc. Multicrete Systems Inc.

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Titan Process Equipment Ltd.

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