The Franke open pit mine is located in the Taltal region in Chile, in the southern border area of the Antofagasta region, which is the largest Chilean copper basin.
Copper ore extraction from the Franke deposit has an almost 100-year history.
Initially, the ore was extracted by independent miners called “pirquineros”, and for years they extracted ore from surface deposits.
In the second half of the previous century, the deposit was explored by many companies, but mining did not commence until 2009, when Minera Centenario Copper, which held the rights to mine this deposit, was acquired by KGHM International Ltd.
Currently mining is conducted by conventional open-pit methods from two orebodies: China and Franke. It comprises extraction using blasting materials and dump trucks, and the loading and transporting of ore for storage in heaps.
The extracted ore is processed using the solvent-winning and electrorefining (SX/EW) method. The method comprises exposing copper ore to diluted sulphuric acid and electrolysis of the resulting solvent. The end product is high quality copper cathode.
Franke produced 20 thousand tonnes of copper cathodes in 2015. According to estimates, the mine will operate until the year 2020.