First Quantum to expand the Las Cruces mine in Seville

This will extend mining operations to 2033 and allow the extraction of 28 million more tons of minerals

In its March 8 edition, the Official Gazette of the Andalusian Regional Government (BOJA) announced the agreement between the Territorial Delegation for the Environment and Land Ordination in Seville whereby the third modification of the special Las Cruces mining action plan, in the municipal district of Salteras (Seville), enters the public information phase.

In this modification, the mining company is requesting the regional government for permission to implement new facilities and structures associated to its mining activity. Specifically, the work includes infilling the southern slag heap to create new facilities in an area of a little over 36 hectares to enable the extraction of metals thanks to the implementation of new technologies. The use of innovation to ensure the most effective extraction of the minerals and the re-utilization of resources is one of the company's values.

Cobre Las Cruces is an open-pit copper mining complex that began operating in June 2009. The plant was designed to produce around 72,000 tons of copper a year, with a predicted useful life until it least 2022. This is one of the richest copper deposits in the world, with initial reserves of 17.6 million tons and a purity far surpassing that of other mines. Beneath the current mine, the company has discovered an additional deposit of around 28 million tons of copper and other minerals, including zinc, lead and silver, which will enable mining operations to be extended until 2033.

At the end of 2016, the mine had 281 direct employees and another 400 subcontracted companies, and also provided indirect employment to an estimated 1,500 workers. Prospecting began in 1992, and by 2013 the company had already invested 900 million euros in the project. The land is distributed between the municipalities of Gerena, Guillena and Salteras in Seville and has an area of 946 hectares. The modification requested will only affect this last municipality.

Last January, the Australian engineer Iain Anderson was appointed general manager of this mine, which is owned by the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals. In his new position he will be responsible for the extension project, which has been valued by some media at 400 million euros.