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Adventures in the Andes: Part Two

Published by
World Cement,

Click here to read part one of this two part report.

Loma Negra

The Loma Negra facility has utilised limestone since the late 1920s as a producer of Portland Cement and other related products in Argentina. When the company needed an additional limestone storage solution, they contacted Geometrica.

Now an immense 110m circular dome sits in the district of Olavarria, Buenos Aires, high on the mountains of San Jacinto. The site was designed to absorb environmental impacts while producing a vital product. The dome ensures that the chemical properties of the limestone are safeguarded, while production bolsters the regional economy and provides employment for many local workers.

Barrick Zaldivar

The Barrick Zaldivar Mine is an open-pit, heap-ach copper mine in Region II of northern Chile at an elevation of 3300m. Located approximately 1400 km north of Santiago and 175 km southeast of the port city of Antofagasta, it required a circular 95m dome to store minerals.

Barrick chose Geometrica to design and construct their structure for several reasons:

  1. Geometrica is one of the world's best known dome builders
  2. Geometrica had considerable experience with these types of domes in Chile,
  3. Geometrica offered a lower lifetime price than competitive structures, and
  4. the installation program was fast, even while the stockpile remained in operation.

A 95m dome now surrounds the stockpile and safeguards the surrounding habitat from air and runoff pollutants.

El Teniente

When Geometrica was commissioned to build the Codelco barrel vault for copper ore storage years ago, snow was a factor above ground. The structure was literally nestled into a hill amidst the most gorgeous scenery imaginable 2300m above sea level. And underneath was 2400 kilometres of tunnels in the world’s largest underground copper mine, actively mined since 1904.

Today, El Teniente produces fire-refined and copper anodes with an output of 403 616 metric t of fine copper.

Mantos Blancos

Geometrica uses a minimum of materials to construct lightweight, yet incredibly strong, storage structures. This is exemplified by the Empresa Minera de Mantos Blancos project — a daring duo of dust-busting domes assembled using practical, fast and non-invasive methods.

A minimum of space and equipment was required, permitting a collaborative atmosphere in which other subcontractors could work on the site simultaneously. Various assembly methods accommodated all new construction situations. The result is a fine ore circular dome spanning 70m, and a copper circular dome spanning 60m. Both are environmental saviours when it comes to dust mitigation.

More Activity in Antofagasta

When the world’s largest silver and 7th-biggest copper producer, Sierra Gorda, needed a pair of domes, they called Geometrica. The open pit mine development and preproduction stripping facility located in the Antofagasta region of Northern Chile required copper ore and concentrate storage. Geometrica designed and built an enormous copper ore storage Freedome spanning 122m, and another dome spanning 62m to contain concentrate. The smaller dome was clad internally for corrosion protection. Both help enable the primary, secondary, and tertiary crushing operations by storing the raw materials. Read more about the project here.

Geometrica has built the longest industrial domes over free form piles using Freedome technology. This is true of the 99m mineral storage dome at Escondida, Chile — currently the highest producing copper mine in the world and largest provider of jobs in the region. Geometrica is pleased to have designed and installed the Escondida stockpile dome cover, as the overall Mine plays a key role in the Chilean economy and accounts for 2.5% of the country's gross domestic product.

Additional Feats in Chile

Chile is a country full of many natural commodities and a prolific producer of ore, clinker, crops and more. Thanks to wonderful relationships with local manufacturers, the region has dozens of Geometrica domes embedded in the landscape. For example, the pair of Caserones domes – a 145m copper ore storage Freedome and a 52m concentrate dome — are located 4000m above sea level in the Chilean Andes, 160km southeast of Copiapó in the Atacama Region. The mine is owned by Japan's Pan-Pacific Copper and Mitsui and Co. Ltd. Construction involved unprecedented challenges due to the rugged location, freezing temperatures, high winds, low ore grade and scarcity of resources.

The Caserones domes are designed to withstand a rugged environment involving snow loads that reach 800kg/m2 and wind pressures of up to 300kg/m2. To see the epic installation high atop the Andes, see the construction video.

Adapted from press release by Joseph Green

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