Futuresmart Mining™ at Anglo American’s Quellaveco Mine: Smart, Safe and Sustainable

At Quellaveco, Anglo American is building a larger mine with a smaller footprint. Quellaveco, translated as “Ash Mountain,” is a new, world-class mine near the town of Moquegua in Peru. With a confirmed mine life of 30 years and containing an estimated 7.5 million tonnes of copper, Quellaveco is a significant find. Anglo American is using this unique opportunity to demonstrate FutureSmart Mining™, a technology-driven sustainable mining blueprint leading the way for responsible mining of the future.

FutureSmart Mining is a groundbreaking approach to technology, digitalization and sustainability for mining operations. By limiting the use of water, energy and capital spending and increasing support to communities, the initiative will make Anglo American’s Quellaveco project one of the most efficient and responsible in the world, without sacrificing productivity. When the mine begins operations in 2022, Quellaveco will have the capacity to deliver enough copper to supply 90 million electric vehicles or 80 million homes.

This $5.3 billion project, owned in part by the Mitsubishi Corporation, will increase the company’s copper production by 20 percent in 2023, generating 330,000 tonnes of copper annually. With the addition of Quellaveco, Anglo American will become the world’s fifth-largest producer of the red metal.


FutureSmart Mining, at its absolute essence, is about footprint; how do you change the footprint of mining? How do you have a mine that draws no fresh water? Mines without tailings dams?”- Tonney O’Neill, Technical Director, Anglo America

The Challenge Facing Sustainable Mining

Because drought is a constant consideration in Peru, Quellaveco’s open pit mine faces special challenges. The Asana River, where the ore is located, supplies water to Moquegua and nearby regions. However, the mine will require 22 million cubic meters (m3) of water annually to operate when production begins in 2022—at an estimated rate of 0.41m3 of water for each tonne of ore.

Quellaveco’s Innovative Water Solution

To reduce its environmental and societal footprint, Anglo American has invested $20 million to reroute the Asana River to preserve its function as a freshwater source for the surrounding area. Technicians constructed a dam and a 7.5-kilometer (4.6-mile) tunnel through a mountain to rejoin the river with its original course on the other side of the mine, ensuring the river’s continued protection and access for surrounding communities.

In addition, Anglo American established two new water sources for future operations, requiring no water from the Asana River once operations begin. First, Anglo American will use approximately 18 million m3 of water from the Titire River in Peru’s High Mountain region, which contains natural arsenic and boron due to its volcanic origins, making the water unsafe for agriculture and human consumption.

Second, Anglo American will provide additional water to local communities by building a dam and reservoir in Vizcachas to collect excess rainwater. This reservoir will hold 60 million m3 of water and distribute 28 million m3 of water annually. Anglo American plans to use only 4 million m3 of water from this source and contribute 24 million m3 of water to the surrounding region.


Moving Mountains with Electricity

The Asana River has already done much of the heavy lifting by removing a substantial amount of waste, rock and soil in the riverbed, reducing the barrier to extraction. The resulting low strip ratio reduces Anglo American’s environmental footprint and increases its production efficiency.

To further increase sustainability, Quellaveco will use energy-efficient electric vehicles to power its process. Technicians will deploy automation-ready equipment, including blast drills and 30 specialized electric mining trucks, the largest Anglo American fleet to date. Cat® dealer Ferreyros’ Caterpillar 291t 794AC mining trucks utilize an electric-drive powertrain to deliver a 327-tonne payload.

High-capacity electric rope shovels and hydraulic mining shovels will load the trucks, further increasing production rates and lowering energy costs. Anglo American selected the Cat 7495 Electric Rope Shovels, the largest mining equipment in Peru. These rope shovels weigh a staggering 1,390 tonnes, the equivalent of 630 light trucks, and can transport up to 127,000 tonnes per day. Quellaveco will also utilize the first Cat 6060 Hydraulic Mining Shovel in Peru, which features a 67-tonne bucket payload.

Innovation is a central tenet of Anglo American’s work. Anglo American is exploring whether Quellaveco could utilize Coarse Particle Recovery (CPR) technology. The technology’s benefits are twofold: 1) CPR allows the mine to float coarser ore particles (2.5 times larger in size), reducing the energy needed to grind the ore to extract the copper, and 2) it drains and reuses the water from the process, allowing waste to be extracted as dry, stackable tailings. This energy-saving technique deployed at Anglo American’s El Soldado mine in Chile achieves an 85 percent water recovery, a 30 percent boost in savings, a 30 percent reduction in energy use and a 20 percent increase in production rates.

A Future for Quellaveco

Whether through its applications in wind turbines, solar panels or electric vehicles, copper is essential to renewable energy. Quellaveco embodies Anglo American’s FutureSmart Mining blueprint by providing a model for responsible mining that will continue sustainable practices, respect the local environment and increase productivity for generations to come.

About Anglo American

Anglo American plc is a diversified multinational mining firm based in London, the United Kingdom and Johannesburg, South Africa, and is a major copper producer with four copper mines in Chile.

About Anglo American Quellaveco S.A.

Quellaveco, which lies in Peru’s southern Moquegua region 3,500 miles above sea level, is a 60-40 percent Joint Venture (JV) between Anglo American and Japan-based Mitsubishi Corp. The Anglo-operated project in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru will utilize open pit mining and flotation processing to produce copper concentrate, along with molybdenum and silver by-products. The operation will yield 300,000 tonnes of copper annually with first copper pending 2022.

About Mitsubishi Corp.

Mitsubishi Corp. is a global conglomerate which develops and operates across industries including energy, metals, machinery, chemicals, foods, finance and environmental business. Headquartered in Tokyo, Mitsubishi’s activities range from resource development to investment in retail business, infrastructure, financial products, and manufacturing of industrial goods.

About the Copper Alliance®

The Copper Alliance is a network of regional copper centers and their industry-leading members. It is responsible for guiding policy and strategy and for funding international initiatives and promotional activities. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization has offices in three primary regions: Europe, Asia, and North America. The Copper Alliance has partnerships and programs in more than 100 countries.

01 May 2021

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