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MEI Online: Biotechnology: Latest News: July 15th 2002


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:: Hatch/Cade Idepe build bioleaching plant

A consortia formed by Hatch Ingenieros Consultores and Cade Idepe has 13 months to complete the engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM) contract for the prototype bioleaching plant that Alliance Copper (Santiago) plans to construct in northern Chile. The plant will be located in Calama, near Codeico Norte's low-grade sulfurs leaching plant. Alliance Copper is a joint venture between Codeico and BHP Billiton. The prototype plant will have capacity to process 77,200 t of copper concentrates containing high amounts of arsenic and other impurities. The plant will produce 20,000 t of copper cathodes per year.

The $60 million plant is expected to start operations in the last quarter of 2003. BHP Billiton is providing the BioCop or bacterial leaching technology and Codeico is providing its electrowinning knowhow for the venture. Alliance will process a 4% of the solutions containing copper in an own plant and the remaining 96% of the solutions will be processed in the current Codeico Norte's oxides plant. The prototype plant will have an useful life of between three and 5 years, enough time to test the technology. However, the design of the facilities includes the required space for an expansion of the operations. Alliance Copper's aim is to test the technology at the prototype plant and then expand it to produce 100,0001 of copper cathodes per year. Also, the second stage of the project includes constructing a new plant to produce 400,0001 of copper cathodes per year.


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