Providing water to Peru’s largest copper mine

The Southern Peru Copper Corporation, one of the largest copper producers in the world, requires specialist support to maintain and service the pumping equipment for its open-pit mines. Since 2012, Xylem Peru has been responsible for this service work, enabling the copper producer to focus even more on its core operations. 

Last year, Southern Peru Copper Corporation (SPCC), the largest mining company in Peru, was looking for a maintenance and service provider for the water infrastructure of its Toquepala and Cuajone mines. With over 50 years of experience mining in the country, SPCC chose Xylem Peru for their reliable service and ability to avoid costly breakdowns.

“Since February 2012, Xylem Peru has been providing services to the Suches hydraulic infrastructure project,” says José Miguel Ramos, Head of Maintenance and Planning – Management of Water Resources, SPCC. “As a result of Xylem’s work done in conjunction with our staff, we have become a strategic supplier to the company.”

Providing water to SPCC’s open-pit mines, in freezing temperatures and at high altitudes, is no easy task. Seen from space, the Toquepala open-pit mine high in the Andes mountains looks like an enormous hole in the ground. It is 2.5 kilometers across at its widest point, and about 700 meters deep. In 2009, Toquepala produced approximately 127,000 tons of copper, making it one of the largest copper mines in the world.

“Xylem’s services include 16 stations covering our groundwater and surface water pumping, plus the maintenance of water distribution systems at the Toquepala and Cuajone mines,” says José Miguel Ramos. “This work is done in extreme weather conditions with temperatures below -15°C and at an altitude of 4,500 meters.”

Continuous service and improvement

The water infrastructure for both of the open-pit mines starts in the mountains, where a group of pumping stations and water lines collects surface water and groundwater. This water is then pumped to the two mining sites for use in the mining process.

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Xylem Peru supplies SPCC with continuous service seven days a week (6 am to 4:30 pm), carried out by a staff of 22 Xylem employees – four specialist engineers, nine technicians and nine workers – plus all the equipment, instruments and tools required to carry out the work in a professional and efficient manner.

“Our service goes beyond the repair and maintenance of pumps – we think ahead,” says Carlos Zeballos, Operations Manager at Xylem Water Solutions Peru. “We use monitoring and control equipment in existing pumping systems, and we provide turnkey solutions for the water supply systems that the client requires.”

Xylem Peru also provides SPCC with regular maintenance reports based on performance indicators such as reliability, availability and maintainability, and recommends improvements to the pumping systems. “It’s a challenge to work in very extreme weather conditions while offering 98 percent reliability in the pumps’ operation, but we are doing it,” Zeballos says.

“We look forward to continue working with Xylem,” says José Miguel Ramos, “and having the company as a strategic stakeholder who will work with us to continuously improve our processes.”

Read more about Xylem’s maintenance services.

by Simon
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