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Peru mine gives bulk in boxes a lift

A remote mine that uses container logistics to export copper concentrate is now in commercial operation.
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MMG Limited has announced that the Las Bambas copper mine in Apurimac, Peru has now entered commercial production.

Over a decade in planning and construction, Las Bambas is an extremely remote mine, 4,300m above sea level and over 700 km from the Port of Matarani on the South American west coast. Its logistics system was designed by engineering consultancy Ausenco and features special bulk containers with dimensions of 4.0m x 2.4m x 1.85m, removable lids and a gross payload of 17.5t.

The containers were ordered in 2014, through Australia-based Intermodal Solutions Group (ISG), which markets the “Pit to Ship” bulk container supply chain concept. The 1,200 containers were built in China by CIMC.

The containers are loaded at the mine site and then trucked around 420km to a transfer site at Pillones, where they are transhipped to rail for the remaining 310 km leg to the Port of Matarani. At the port, the containers are unloaded into a hopper using a RAM Spreaders Revolver container rotating attachment mounted on a reach stacker. 

The Revolver is fitted with a special lid lifter, also designed and patented by ISG, and a back-up diesel power supply. The Revolver has been designed so it can unload the containers directly into a ship’s hold if required.

Las Bambas, if it meets its target of 400,000t of copper concentrate, will become the world’s third largest copper mine next year, relying completely on bulk container logistics to get its product to market.

The mine produced 31,470t in Q1 2016 and exported its first shipment to China in January.

“MMG is emerging as a major copper player – continuing to invest in the down cycle with the support of its major shareholder China Minmetals Corporation,” said MMG CEO Andrew Michelmore.

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