Moly-Cop Plant Tour
After the Cerro Verde tour, the UBC mining group headed to Moly-Cop’s smelter in La Joya. Moly-Cop is a leading producer of grinding media in the world. Upon arrival, the group was first provided a safety presentation with the plant map, PPE requirement, risk map, plant hazards, and emergency muster points. Moly Cop also provided the necessary PPE to enter the plant.
The La Joya plant overview was then presented. Moly Cop has various locations in the world including Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Australia, Chile, and Peru. Its Lima location supplies the grinding media for the mines in northern Peru, while the Arequipa location supplies the southern part of the country. Their main products are steel grinding balls, but they also provide grinding rods and mining chemicals. When they started production in Arequipa in 1981, they produced about 10,000 tonnes of grinding balls per year. They had ramped their production up to 60,000 tonnes per year until they decided to open an expansion in La Joya which has 175,000 tonnes per year capacity. La Joya was fully commissioned in November 2016 and currently produces grinding balls ranging from two inches to four inches in diameter.
The group had a plant tour which provided an excellent overview of how grinding balls are made from start to finish. First, a seven meter steel rod enters the walking heat furnace from the feeding table for about 50 minutes to reach the desired temperature. The hot bar enters the roll formers and is formed into balls by helixes on two ball formers. The balls are produced at about 1000 degrees Celsius. They are then sent to a cooling table prior to being quenched. Cooling the balls before quenching them prevents the balls from cracking. After exiting the quenching drum, the balls are at about 150 degrees Celsius. They are further cooled down on a second cooling table before they are sent to the hoppers. A crane with magnetic attachment is used to transfer the balls from the hoppers to trucks for delivery. Earlier in the day, the group had witnessed a truck delivering a load of grinding balls during the Cerro Verde tour from this Moly-Cop plant.
Moly-Cop’s La Joya operation is also a leader in environmental conservation. It consumes as little as 10% of the water of similar plants by recycling its water. It also resells its metal scraps to steel manufacturers for reuse. It was a unique experience to witness and learn about the production of grinding media. Muchas Gracias Moly-Cop!