Metso Insights Case studies Mining and metals refining Collahuasi thickener upgrade services delivers superior tailings performance results in Chile
Mining Metals refining
Aug 23, 2019

Collahuasi thickener upgrade services delivers superior tailings performance results in Chile

Retrofitting 2 x conventional tailings thickeners with the latest Outotec Vane Feedwell™ and integrated teamwork under constrained execution periods leads to a very successful project delivered on time with superior tailings performance results.

Collahuasi mine

Collahuasi mine is a large copper mine located at a high altitude of 4,000m in the north of Chile in the Tarapacá Region and represents one of the largest copper reserves in Chile and in the world, having estimated reserves of 3.93 billion tons of ore grading 0.66% copper.   Lying in an area of historical copper mining, the deposit was outlined in 1991.  The mine was commissioned in April 1999 and completed an expansion program in 2004, giving the mine a long-term capacity of 500,000t/yr of copper.

The processing area consists of both oxide and sulphide plants. Oxide and mixed ores are treated by heap-leaching, solvent-extraction, and electro-winning (SX-EW). Sulphide ore is crushed, ground and treated by flotation.

We were approached by our customer, Collahuasi to conduct a survey on the thickener to optimize feed conditions to optimize thickening performance.


During 2017-2018, Our MA Andes MP Sales team worked alongside the customer Compañía Minera Doña Ines de Collahuasi (CMDIC) with the aim of upgrading two Outotec conventional thickeners sold in the ’90s that were outdated and performing poorly. The business case and development were successfully completed, and we received an order to upgrade the thickeners. Our solution included the latest available technology and developments, including the Outotec Vane Feedwell™.

Our technology experience and understanding coupled with our customer-driven vision and close customer relationship developed into a new business prospect for the installation of additional equipment.

Our minerals processing and services sales team studied the background and promptly responded with a series of site visits after which we presented our proposal. After fine-tuning the scope, we were awarded the Installation based on our experience and capability to deliver and comply with challenging customer requirements.

After a negotiation and adjudication period, we proceeded with the recruitment process, training, mobilization, and accreditation for the project.

3D survey – ensuring quality, safety, and efficiency

The first step was to conduct a survey using a 3D laser scan, creating a digital layout where the data was uploaded to a cloud-based system. Using this data, we analyzed the equipment and created a detailed plan of the work required to complete the upgrade. This method of meticulous pre-planning reduces the installation period by approximately 30%.

Despite changes to the scope, we were able to complete the project, including the additional scope within the agreed period of 40 days, ensuring safety, quality, and efficiency.

Adaptability and flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility were the keys to achieving the objectives during the development phase, through steady interaction with our customers minimizing risks and impact on our customer maintenance program.

As our services team commenced with the project, they discovered additional methods to improve the optimization of the thickeners, which extended the initial project scope. This was discussed with our customer who agreed and approved the additional scope with the condition of adhering to the initial period originally committed which required an additional 3 days to execute.

Our team swiftly got underway with a strategy to include the additional scope within the agreed period.


“The risk management cycle is impressively aligned with Minera Collahuasi’ standards”.
“The risk management cycle is impressively aligned with Minera Collahuasi’ standards”.


The project was executed on time due to the integrated efforts of Outotec specialists, the execution team and support from the business line in Chile. The new strategy resulted in further optimizations of 15% in the time period owing to critical planning.


Our meticulous planning and integrated efforts led to customer satisfaction a strengthened customer relationship, performance efficiency and increased profitability.

*This case study has been written prior to the merger of Metso and Outotec.

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