News & Events

Codelco awards EPCM Group 2nd tankhouse automation maintenance contract at Chuquicamata

April 6, 2022

Tecnologias COBRA (an EPCM Company) has been awarded a four-year contract to provide specialized service expertise in electro-refining and process control for Codelco’s Chuquicamata Division. This project comes on the heels of EPCM Group’s proven success in automating manual operations at global mines such as Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic and Antofagasta Minerals’ Zaldivar.  

With the objective of improving safety, lowering operational costs, increasing labour efficiency and assuring operational continuity at Chuquicamata, EPCM & COBRA designed an innovative hybrid solution to execute the contract. This includes leveraging robotic equipment on-site for cathode blank maintenance and hard-to-strip copper, in addition to off-site maintenance at the new COBRA facility in Calama.  

“Until now, cathodes were handled manually,” explains Lidia Rubio, COBRA’s Manager of Supply and Service. “COBRA’s expertise in automating activities that are currently done manually will significantly improve safety and operational performance. By automating cathode stripping and employing robots to manipulate and transport materials, we’ll reduce human contact, lower energy and transportation costs, and increase efficiency overall.”    

With only a 10-day window to prepare, the COBRA team sprang swiftly into action. By the April 1st start date, all systems were going and the project began smoothly despite the crunched timeline.  

“Our new Calama facility gives us close proximity to mines in the region, resulting in improved execution and turnaround of services to this mining centre. It’s a key advantage we offer,” adds Claudia Sanchez, COBRA’s General Manager. “In fact, transportation costs alone will plummet by 50% by COBRA doing this work on-site at Chuquicamata”. 

The contract scope encompasses:

  1. Maintenance and stripping blanks (e.g. edge strip removal and replacement, copper stripping, surface cleaning and replacement, and cathode verticality; cathode re-welding, component replacement, and easy and hard-to-strip copper). This includes the traceability of permanent cathodes for planning and performance evaluation purposes.  
  2. Anode scrap sorting, weighing and strapping.
  3. Copper cathode inspection and electrolyte process control activities.  

This contract further expands EPCM Group’s existing tankhouse automation contract with Chuquicamata, which includes Cathode Stripping Machines (CSMs), anode prep, and scrap wash equipment. 

About EPCM: 

Established in 1980, EPCM is a global engineering, procurement and construction management firm. We address our clients’ most difficult manufacturing and operational challenges by applying our bold thinking, industry insights, end-to-end services, and global capability.