Sierra Gorda Project

Sierra Gorda Project

Sierra Gorda Project


  • Geotechnical Site Investigations, Site Supervision and Laboratory Testing
  • Tailings Disposal Alternatives Assessment
  • Tailings and Water Management Design
  • Open Pit Geomechanical Investigations, Stability Analyses and Pit Slope Design

Client: Quadra FNX Mining Ltd.

Location: Atacama Desert (Region II), Northern Chile

Completion Date: 2008-2010

Project Description: Sierra Gorda is a large tonnage, open pit copper mine development project located in the most prolific copper mining district in the world – the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile. The deposit has mining reserves of over 1 billion tonnes. The planned operations will involve open pit mining and milling rate of up to 190,000 tonnes per day for over 20 years. When completed, the pit will be one of the deepest in the world, approaching 1,000 m. Water management is one of the main challenges for all mines operating in the extremely arid climate of the Atacama Desert, and methods of conserving water were fundamental to the designs.

Knight Piésold’s Role: Knight Piésold developed a scoping study for Sierra Gorda Quadra in 2008/2009, which involved the open pit slope design, preliminary geotechnical site investigations, tailings disposal alternatives assessment and  tailings and water management concepts and designs.  In 2010 Knight Piésold conducted detailed geotechnical and geomechanical site investigation programs for the open pit, plant site, tailings management facility, waste dump and process water pond. A preliminary geotechnical assessment was also completed for concentrate dewatering facilities and the 140 km long water supply pipeline corridor to the coast. Pre-feasibility level designs were subsequently completed for the open pit slopes and tailings management facility. Geotechnical engineering design and support was provided for site infrastructure, including a detailed seismicity assessment.