Productivity in thin air

Peruvian mining company Volcan Compañía Minera installs paste thickeners and doubles its capacity in six months.

In the thin air of Cerro de Pasco, high in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, Volcan Compañía Minera’s processing plant more than doubled throughput in six months. The plant now exceeds its original design capacity of 2,500 tonnes a day – and can process as much as 3,000 tonnes. However, half a year earlier, the oxide plant was underperforming as it only managed a throughput of between 900 and 1,200 tonnes of gold and silver-bearing oxide ore per day.

Juan Manuel del Aguila, project engineer at Volcan, and his colleague Luis Loaiza collaborated with FLSmidth’s team in Peru to find a solution to improve the process of recovering silver via cyanide. Volcan’s team of engineers travelled to Salt Lake City, Utah to perform further tests at FLSmidth’s facilities.


“The initial tests in Salt Lake City resulted in a large filtering area, but we also carried out parallel tests to explore other options. It turned out that we could meet the objectives with the EIMCO® Deep Cone® Paste Thickeners. We returned with these results and carried out onsite tests at Cerro de Pasco,” says Manual del Aguila.

 “Our engineers installed a pilot thickener plant at the site and after twenty days of testing, we found that it would increase the tonnage at the plant. This allowed Volcan to meet their capacity needs. A solution that required less time and less capital than applying additional filters,” says Walter Gamero, Senior Process Engineer at FLSmidth, Peru.

Cooperation fast-track the process
Volcan awarded FLSmidth an EPC contract to supply two Deep Cone Paste Thickeners, including the required tanks, piping, pumps valves instrumentation,  control boards, cables, motors and control system . Only a week after operation, the Volcan oxide plant exceeded its original design capacity of 2,500 tonnes a day.

“We are not limited to just supplying the equipment with a mechanical guarantee but can also apply business models providing guarantees on the performance of the equipment in terms of volumes, availability.” says Gamero. By excessive cooperation between Volcan and FLSmidth, the process was fast-tracked and a success.

Leading test facilities

To find the optimal solution for Volcan Compañía Minera’s processing plant, engineers from Cerro de Pasco travelled to FLSmidth’s R&D centre and test facilities in Salt Lake City, USA. Here, FLSmidth offers leading test expertise in precious metals, base metals, and industrial metals.

The facilities include crushing, grinding (including ultra-fine grinding capabilities), gravity separation, hydrometallurgy (ambient and autoclave technology), column leaching and flotation. Flotation equipment includes mechanical test cells from 50 grams to 15,000 grams capacity. The laboratory also offers in-plant consultation services and plant auditing.


Walter Gamero, Process Engineer