The Chilean Collahuasi Mine in the Pica district of the Tarapacá region produces more than 5,000 tons of fine copper per year, making it one of the largest copper mines in the world. Two opencast mines provide the necessary copper ores, which are smelted on site into copper concentrate and cathodes. For enrichment, the mine relies on the flotation process, for which the German motor pump manufacturer Pleuger Industries now supplies six robust high-performance pumps.
The 10-inch pumps are used to dewater the copper sludge in the flotation process and extract the copper concentrate. If the pumps fail, the production process comes to a standstill – reliability therefore has top priority. The decision in favour of a pump manufacturer is therefore less a question of one-time costs than of confidence in the technical know-how of the engineers. The company Wellford from Chile, Collahuasis pump supplier, brought Pleuger Industries into play because the German pump manufacturer has decades of experience in designing pump units for the special requirements of the mining sector. Pleuger’s engineers have acquired their expertise in various customizing projects around the globe, which the Hamburg-based company continuously uses in the construction of its engines.
Process pumps used in copper production operate under extreme conditions: Copper, a semi-precious metal dissolved in water, quickly oxidizes the materials from which pumps are usually made. In order to counteract this process, the engineers at Pleuger Industries rely on a corrosion protection concept specially adapted to the customer when designing the pumps. In addition, the new pump systems must be energy-efficient, because Collahuasis copper production follows an energy management system based on international standards.