CiDRA Minerals Processing has announced that Anglo American has awarded CiDRA a contract to supply SONARtrac process monitoring systems to the Los Bronces Development Project. The expansion of the Los Bronces copper mine is one of the largest mining jobs in Chile today.

CiDRA’s SONARtrac process monitoring systems were chosen to provide flow measurements at multiple key monitoring points on the new slurry pipeline, designed and managed by Ausenco PSI. These critical measurements will be used for operational control as well as leak detection along the pipeline to the concentrator plant. Ausenco PSI, under contract with Bechtel Chile, was responsible for the engineering plan and field engineering support for the expansion project’s slurry and reclaimed water pipeline. Anglo American’s previous experience with SONARtrac technology on an existing slurry pipeline of similar design was a factor in this selection. CiDRA’s SONARtrac technology was the best technology economically attainable for this project.

The Los Bronces Development Project involves the addition of new grinding, mineral transport, and concentration facilities that will increase the division’s production capacity by roughly 230,000t per annum to 490,000t per annum of fine copper annually in the first three years, and 400,000t per annum on average in the first ten years. The scope of the new plant includes crushing and conveying, grinding and flotation circuits, utilising the largest proven equipment to maximise operating efficiency, and a concentrate regrind and a molybdenum plant.

The SONARtrac flow monitoring systems will be installed at six critical points along the 52km long, 28" diameter slurry pipeline, which descends from the new concentrator plant high in the Andes Mountains to the valley floor. The instruments will be located at the head station and at all five energy dissipation stations, where they will provide critical information for operational control and leak detection. Two additional SONARtrac instruments will be installed on the new recovered water pipeline for operational monitoring and control.

CiDRA’s SONARtrac flow technology is a new class of industrial flowmetre, utilising measurement principles that are distinct from all other flowmetre technologies operating in the mining industry. SONARtrac non-intrusive flow monitoring systems make no contact with the liquid or slurry and can be removed and reinstalled without process interruption. In addition, SONARtrac systems demonstrate stable output and superior levels of performance in the presence of highly variable fluid properties.

For the Los Bronces Development Project application on the new slurry pipeline, Ausenco PSI recommended the SONARtrac process monitoring system for its high level of accuracy (within 1%), which allows the metere to play a dual role in both flow measurement and leak detection. Ausenco PSI understood the value that highly accurate, non-intrusive flow measurements could add to the project and, therefore, designed CiDRA into the process.