The largest underground copper mine in the world boosts safety and profitability with high-tensile wire mesh from Geobrugg.
Codelco, the operator of the century-old underground copper mine El Teniente in Chile, commissioned Geobrugg to provide dynamic steel wire mesh to stabilise the mine tunnels. El Teniente spans more than 3,000 kilometers of underground tunnels.
This underground mine, which has the largest known copper deposits in the world, employs almost 5,000 people. In addition to solutions protecting against natural hazards, Geobrugg also provides safety solutions for underground mining with this dynamic mesh. After years of testing this mesh type has proven its capability for the underground mining sector. It is now marketed under the brand name MINAX®, and sets entirely new standards for providing cost-effective safety.
Two major developments that can be observed in the mining industry worldwide put the high-tensile and dynamic steel mesh of Geobrugg more and more into the limelight. These developments are the relentless efforts to increase safety in the mines and the need to exploit the ores in deeper and therefore more demanding levels.
One solution – many superb advantages
There were crucial factors that led Codelco to choose the Geobrugg mesh in their New Mine Level (NML) programme: 1) Dynamic surface support by high-tensile steel wire mesh, and 2) safe, and faster automated installation.
Made of high-tensile, corrosion-resistant steel wire, this dynamic mesh is the only one suitable for underground surface support and challenging geological conditions prevalent in these tunnels. Automated installation provides both an efficient realisation and the greatest degree of safety since miners are not required to be co-located in the danger area during installation. Naturally, these factors have a positive effect on the operating costs.
Maintaining client safety and profitability
Geobrugg has five global production facilities and over 50 worldwide branch locations, allowing delivery of different gauge versions of MINAX wire mesh in large quantities and with short notice. All mesh exhibit extraordinary strength; and to ensure a long service life Geobrugg analyses the environmental conditions of the mines and treats the MINAX wire mesh with the required corrosion protection.
Hence, the use of MINAX in the El Teniente mine not only represents a milestone in Geobrugg’s product development, but also great progress for the mining sector with regard to safety and profitability.
Interest at the highest level
Doris Leuthard, member of the Swiss Government (minister of environment, transport, energy and communications) showed great interest in the new safety installations and Codelco’s NML programme during her recent visit to the El Teniente mine. She met with the Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco and other representatives of the government to sign two agreements for increased collaboration between Switzerland and Chile in the planning of infrastructure and the promotion of energy efficiency.
Another focus of Leuthard’s visit was to survey the potential for natural hazards as the climate continues to change. Switzerland possesses great expertise in anticipating and being prepared to contain floods, rockfalls, avalanches or debris flows. Increased collaboration with Switzerland could be invaluable for Chile.