Constancia embodies Hudbay’s diverse strengths and capabilities in every aspect of mining. In a challenging, mountainous geography, we went from acquisition in 2011 to completed construction in 2014. Subsequently, Hudbay moved from initial production to full production in only five months – all while maintaining a clear focus on safety and a close rein on costs.
Constancia is one of the lowest cost sulphide copper mines in South America, and Hudbay has been able to control costs while continuing to optimize production.
In 2019, Constancia delivered record performance in terms of the tonnes of ore the mine processed, increasing from the original daily rate of approximately 76,000 tonnes to a record of almost 86,000 tonnes per day for the year. At the same time, we increased the amount of copper we recover from that ore, moving from an average 80% recovery to consistent recoveries of 85% or higher.
Our safety performance was also solid in 2019, with only one lost time injury over the year. Constancia is a recognized sector leader for safety in South America, and our performance is driven by a commitment to continuous improvement. In 2019, we expanded the mine-wide Behaviour-Based Safety program we introduced in 2018, and implemented new safety technologies and protocols for our highway fleet.
The team at Constancia drove performance improvements by finding ways to optimize technical processes related to recovery and by re-examining our approach to daily operations. On the technical side, we initiated enhancements at the concentrator and to our overall recovery circuit. Many of these improvements were only made possible by the knowledge we have gained over several years of operation, which, from a metallurgical perspective, has given us greater insight into the nature of the resource at Constancia.
With respect to day-to-day operations, one of the most significant improvements we made was the introduction of a central control centre – imagine an air traffic control tower for a mine.
Rather than working in separate offices, mining and processing staff now work together in a central office that uses on-site cameras to provide them with a 360-degree, 24/7 picture of everything occurring on the mine site.
This enhanced perspective allows managers at Constancia to see challenges, often before they happen, and, through collaboration, to resolve problems quickly when they do arise, all of which contributes to a more efficient and productive mine.
Focused on Continuous Improvement
The commitment to continuous improvement at Constancia will deliver further benefits, as, over the next several years, Hudbay begins to capitalize on the area’s regional potential. Constancia is at the centre of several highly prospective properties, including Pampacancha, to which Hudbay has both the surface and mineral rights. As these properties are developed, ore from the sites will be processed using existing facilities at Constancia, providing another example of Hudbay’s exceptional capacity for extending the productivity and value of its assets.