Desalination plant to serve Chilean mine

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 15, 2010 -- Severn Trent Services wins contract to provide a seawater desalination plant in Chile which it says will be more cost effective through using 16-inch membranes...

Mar 15th, 2010

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 15, 2010 -- Severn Trent Services has been awarded a contract to provide a seawater desalination plant that will serve the portable and process water needs of the Minera Esperanza copper and gold mine in Antofagasta, Chile.

The plant will draw seawater from the Pacific Ocean, which will be treated using ultrafiltration (UF) and reverse osmosis (RO) systems. As part of the process, seawater will be pumped 145 km to the mine located at 2,200 meters above sea level and 5% will be processed to obtain the product water.

Construction of the 634,000-gpd plant, which is owned by Antofagasta PLC of London (70%) and Marubeni Corporation of Tokyo (30%), is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2010. The equipment will be installed and commissioned by Proequipos Ltda. of Santiago, Chile.

Severn Trent Services said the desalination plant will be more cost effective than traditional RO systems because it uses 16-inch membranes, compared to conventional 8-inch membranes. The firm said the same flow of water can be produced using these larger-diameter RO membranes, fewer membranes and pressure vessels.

Two Severn Trent Services UAT™ 705,000-gpd (2,671 m3/day) UF trains using DOW™ UF membranes and two Severn Trent Services UAT 634,000-gpd (2,400 m3/day) RO trains using DOW FILMTEC™ 16-in membranes will be installed at the plant.

The UF pretreatment system will not require a coagulant and will operate at 90% recovery, while the single-pass RO system will operate at 45%, producing water quality below 400 ppm total dissolved solids.

Marwan Nesicolaci, vice president of international sales and business development for Severn Trent Services, said: “The global market for seawater desalination remains strong, and delivering new, more efficient plant designs is becoming increasingly important."

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