The world’s largest and most historic mining operations in Chile and Peru depend on genuine Mesabi® radiators to keep mining equipment operating smoothly in severe weather conditions and corrosive environments.
As the world continues to push for global electrification, the demand for precious minerals rises along with it. Minerals such as copper and lithium for wires, batteries, electric motors and vehicles are all meant to replace fossil fuels with more efficient technology. Mines in Chile and Peru are notable contributors to this electrification wave due to their abundant geology.
Over 300 million years ago, the North Andean copper-gold province formed along the southwest coast of Latin America. Some of the largest copper deposits in the world remain in a 2,500-kilometer arc of rich mineralization. Both Chile and Peru have an extended mining culture and history that dates back thousands of years. Now, with multiple underground and open pit mines, both countries continue to seek expansion and maintain their legacies as top mineral distributors.
However, this job isn’t easy. Working with the earth’s elements means you are susceptible to environmental challenges of all kinds. Latin America stretches across a broad equatorial zone in the north and a sub-arctic zone in the south. Not only are these mining operations in dusty environments, but Chile and Peru are located in vulnerable spaces for severe weather conditions that challenge the machines on the job. And, with a high demand for resources, they need the best performance out of all their machines in order to withstand the harsh climate and get the job done.
That’s why mining operations in Chile and Peru consistently turn to Mesabi radiators to ensure that their mining equipment operates smoothly.
“Mesabi heat exchangers, radiators, and oil coolers are found at every major mining operation in Chile and Peru, both in underground and surface mines,” said Mark Bausch, L&M Radiator’s South American Sales Manager. It goes to say that a standard radiator is ill in comparison to a genuine Mesabi radiator, as the ease of serviceability and cleaning, and the long-lasting durability and lifespan are unmatched.
Mesabi at High Altitude Copper Mines in Chile
Chile is a narrow ribbon of land located along the southwest coast of South America. The majority of copper mining in the region is concentrated in the Andes Mountains. More specifically, their operations are in the Cordillera – a system of parallel mountain ranges and intervening plateaus that are part of the long stretch of the Andean Copper Belt, starting up north and extending down into Chile.
Two of the premier open pit copper mines in Chile are Escondia in Antofagasta, owned by Australian company BHP, and the historic Chuquicamata Coppermine in Calama, owned by the state-run company Codelco. At these locations, mining operations work at elevations ranging between 10,000 to 15,000 feet above sea level – an extreme altitude with equally extreme consequences on the machines on site.
Because the air mass is lower in these higher altitudes, it’s much more difficult to get enough cooling into a machine’s engine compared to air flow at sea level.
“It’s imperative for us to accurately design radiators to work at altitude. It’s also equally important for our customers to maintain the cleanliness of their cooling packages so they can operate as designed at altitude,” said Bausch.
Imperative, indeed. Mesabi’s cooling packages have a flexible core without solder joints. When operating in extreme temperature environments, it’s possible to see temperatures fall below zero degrees Fahrenheit, potentially damaging the soldered assemblies. On the flip side, internal temperatures of the metal inside the machine can be upwards of 200 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. The juxtaposing temperatures can produce problems for equipment that relies on a non-Mesabi cooling system.
“Our systems withstand that environment and perform very well because there is no solder bond between the core and the tanks. It’s all done with our flexible seals and O-rings,” said Bausch.
Machines, such as dozers, drills and haul trucks, are already vulnerable at high altitudes, and they are even more vulnerable to the environment created from the mines and the surrounding climate. Snow, melted slush, minerals, and dust can clog radiators, which requires more vigilance in cleaning radiators for optimal performance. Luckily, the tubes in a Mesabi radiator are designed to make the core more convenient for on-site cleaning methods.
“All of Mesabi products are engineered to perform optimally in severe environments. The contamination which could occur in certain locations is mitigated by using our brass tubes and stainless tanks,” said Bausch.
Mesabi and the Peruvian Mining Legacy
Mining operations in Peru have an expansive legacy that goes back thousands of years to the time of the Inca Empire. Historically, Peru has been known for its enormous quantity of precious metals such as gold, silver, copper and tin. To put it in perspective, the ruins of Machu Picchu and the gold that moved through their culture between 1200-1530 AD would blow the gold reserves at Fort Knox away.
Today, Peru has many mid-sized, underground copper, gold, silver, and tin mines throughout the Andes. Peru’s premier mines include the Antamina mine, one of the largest copper and zinc mines in the world and property of the company BHP; the Cerro Verde mine in Arequipa, owned by the American company Freeport-McMoRan; the historic Yanacocha gold mine in Cajamarca; the copper mine Quellaveco in the Moquegua Region, a joint venture between Anglo American and Mitsubishi; and the Mina Justa copper mine, located near Marcona, developed by Marcobre.
At every one of these mines, you’ll find Mesabi radiators and coolers on their extensive fleet of surface operating equipment, cooling haul trucks, dozers, and graders.
Similar to the harsh weather conditions found in Chile, Peru depends on Mesabi radiators to help combat the dust and tainted snow that cling to and clog the tubes.
At the Mina Justa mine in particular, Mesabi helps prevent the corrosive environment from damaging the metal on their equipment by using brass tubes. The mine is located within five kilometers of the ocean front, so general corrosion is more likely to occur, primarily when metal is exposed to water and salt bearing air. All metal is easily oxidized, so when atoms lose and regain electrons after being wet, corrosion will occur and damage the entire surface where the metal resides.
“They’ve seen corrosion attack their cooling packages, and we’ve provided quotes for brass tube conversions for that equipment,” said Bausch.
There’s no doubt that Mesabi plays a huge role in helping these mining powerhouses get the job done. For more than 65 years, L&M Radiator has stayed true to its “one and done” philosophy, even in the face of severe weather conditions, corrosive environments, and extreme temperatures. Regardless of the conditions, you can’t beat an original Mesabi radiator.
L&M Radiator: Powering of the Mining Industry Worldwide