$2m desalination plant set for Escondida mine in Chile

A new 2.5 m3/second seawater desalination facility is being built to provide water to BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine in Chile, at an investment of US$1,972 million...

A new 2.5 m3/second seawater desalination facility is being built to provide water to BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine in Chile, at an investment of US$1,972 million.

Construction of the new desalination facility is set to start this month and will include the development of two pipelines, four high pressure pump stations, a reservoir at the mine site and high voltage infrastructure to support the system. The new facility will be commissioned in 2017.

The project will ensure continued water supply to Escondida, as water use increases upon completion of the 152,000 tonne per day OGP1 copper concentrator.

In May 2011 Chilean mining company CAP signed a contract with Spanish firm Acciona Agua to build a 52,000 m3/day reverse osmosis desalination plant (see WWi story).

Peter Beaven, preside of BHP Billiton Copper, said: “Securing a sustainable water supply in the Atacama Desert is a major priority for all Chilean copper producers, so the approval of the Escondida Water Supply project is a significant milestone for our business."

Beaven said the new facility would help minimise reliance upon the region's aquifers.

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