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Bechtel to Design and Build Complex Water System for Desert Copper Mine in Chile

  • 12 December 2013
  • Americas, Engineering, Procurement & Construction, Environmental Sustainability, Mining & Metals, Press Release, Project & Program Management, Water

System Will Deliver Sustainable Water Supply for Escondida Mine

Bechtel has been selected by BHP Billiton to provide engineering, project management, and construction services for a system that will bring a sustainable water supply to the Escondida copper mine in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The project includes construction of a seawater desalination plant at the Caleta Coloso port and the piping and electrical infrastructure needed to transport the water to the mine, 114 miles (185 kilometers) away and 10,170 feet (3,100 meters) above sea level. The mine is operated by Minera Escondida, in which BHP Billiton owns a majority stake.

“This an important project that’s quite complex given the distance between the port and the mine combined with the mine’s remote location and high altitude—not to mention the Atacama's being the world’s driest hot desert,” said  José Ivo, general manager of Bechtel’s Mining & Metals business in the  Americas. “We will draw on our extensive engineering, pipeline, and power experience as well as our knowledge of local geographic conditions to work with Minera Escondida to safely deliver a world-class water system.”

Bechtel will construct  the seawater desalination plant. In addition, the company will undertake the engineering and construction of  two 42-inch-diameter pipelines that will run between the port and the mine and the related infrastructure, which includes four high-pressure pumping stations, associated electrical substations, and 70 miles (114 kilometers) of high-voltage transmission lines along the pipeline route. Bechtel also will provide  construction management services for the marine works associated with the project.

This project extends Bechtel’s long-standing practice of delivering complex projects in Latin America. The company has worked on more than 200 mining projects in the region since 1951, including the recent Los Bronces, Antapaccay, and Los Pelambres copper mines.


About Bechtel

Bechtel is a trusted engineering, construction and project management partner to industry and government. Differentiated by the quality of our people and our relentless drive to deliver the most successful outcomes, we align our capabilities to our customers’ objectives to create a lasting positive impact. Since 1898, we have helped customers complete more than 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents that have created jobs, grown economies, improved the resiliency of the world's infrastructure, increased access to energy, resources, and vital services, and made the world a safer, cleaner place.  

Bechtel serves the Energy; Infrastructure; Manufacturing & Technology; Mining & Metals; and Nuclear, Security & Environmental markets. Our services span from initial planning and investment, through start-up and operations.

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