New life for an old mine – Carmen, Chile

The Carmen iron mine is located in the northern Chilean Province of Chañaral and lies approximately 50km east of the coastal port city of Chañaral. Since May, 2010, Minera Santa Fe has been producing a dry magnetite iron concentrate from old stockpiles originally derived from the open pit, idle for 40 years. SRK recognised the possibility of adding resources at the Carmen project by exploring the iron potential of the alluvial gravels east of the old pit, as well as the potential of the mineralised material in the pit, either by extending the depth of the high grade zone in the old underground workings or by expanding the pit itself. Drilling has been conducted on these targets and considerable new resources have been added to the project.

Minera Santa Fe (MSF) has used SRK in Santiago as a consultant to do the geological exploration on most of their projects and they contacted SRK to work at Carmen on this brownfield exploration program. SRK is constructing a new geological model based on additional infill drilling and will produce a new resource estimate. Once this is completed, a mining scoping study will be performed. SRK has already done a preliminary economic study of the project for MSF. The results are very positive and MSF plans to move the project ahead as quickly as possible.
MSF is currently producing from a new plant, which will treat all the ore types at Carmen. The plant will process 500,000 tonnes of material per month.

Carmen is one of the few iron mines in Chile where a massive magnetite ore zone is well exposed in the underground workings. The workings consist of three levels that are located behind the south wall of the open pit. The levels extend for about 50m vertically and the lowest level, number 3, is about 10m below the lowest point of the pit bottom at 800masl. A I-Site scanner survey was conducted in the open pit and all the underground workings.

SRK’s Santiago geologists are able to design and run exploration programs, construct geologic models and perform resource-reserve estimations, as well as integrate their services with the mining department. This has allowed SRK to continue working on this project through the early engineering phases.

George Even:
Ernesto Jaramillo:

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