Desalination contract agreed in world's most arid region

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SANTIAGO DE CHILE, Chile, May 10, 2011 -- Chilean mining company CAP has signed a contract with Spanish firm Acciona Agua to design, build and operate a reverse osmosis desalination facility in the Copiapó Valley in Chile's Atacama Region III.

The contract is worth US$63.5 million (45 million euros approx.) and the facility will have an initial capacity of 17,000 m3/day, eventually increasing to a maximum of 52,000 m3/day.

The desalination plant will be built near the Port of Punto Totoralillo, one of several owned by CAP Minería in Atacama. It will be located 25km north of the city of Caldera, 82km from the mining operations in Cerro Negro Norte and 120km from the group's Planta Magnetita operations, in the area known as Tierra Amarilla (literally "Yellow Earth").

The Atacama Desert, while rich in mineral resources, is considered one of the most arid regions on the planet and the Copiapó valley has more than 60 mining operations driving the local economy, accounting for nearly 50% of the region's GDP.

Acciona has previously built four wastewater plants in Chile, including Valdivia (total capacity: 25,000 m3/ day), Osorno (total capacity: 40,000 m3/day), La Ligua (total capacity: 5,000 m3/ day) and Temuco (total capacity: 158,000 m3/day).

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