Bechtel said that it has been given the approval from Teck Resources to move ahead with the phase 2 expansion work of the Quebrada Blanca copper mine (QB copper mine) in Chile.
Teck had previously appointed Bechtel as the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contractor of the $4.8bn QB copper mine expansion project.
The copper mine is located in the northern Chilean Andes, in the Tarapacá Region, 4,300m above sea level and about 145km from the Pacific Ocean.
The phase 2 expansion would see construction of a 143,000 tons-per-day copper concentrator, a high-capacity desalination plant, and a 165km water supply pipeline.
First production from the QB2 project is aimed for the second half of 2021.
The QB Copper Mine’s second phase expansion is expected to help the mine produce copper and molybdenum concentrates until late 2040s. Overall, the project is estimated to produce 316,000 tons of copper equivalent production a year for the first five full years of mine life.
Bechtel mining & metals global business unit president Paige Wilson said: “Working together with Teck we have developed a capital efficient design and, in the field, we will be applying innovative productivity methodologies to deliver the lowest possible construction costs in Chile.
“The project offers a great opportunity for Bechtel and Teck to deliver industry best results building the largest copper project in Latin America.”
Bechtel claims that it has delivered more than 40 major copper projects across the world. It also claims to have played a part in delivering a 60% increase in copper production capacity in Latin America in the last three decades.
Last month, Teck signed a $1.2bn deal to sell a stake of 30% in the QB Copper Mine to Japan-based Sumitomo and its subsidiary Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM). The company had also sanctioned the construction of the QB2 project last month.
The Canadian metals and mining company will hold a stake of 60% in the copper mine’s holding company Compañia Minera Teck Quebrada Blanca (QBSA) upon closing of the deal, while the Sumitomo group and Chilean State agency Enami will own stakes of 30% and 10%, respectively.