Abengoa signs desalination deal with Chilean power group

Chilean generator AES Gener signed a contract with Spanish engineering firm Abengoa for a water desalination plant that will supply the power for the Angamos northern coal-fired power plant. And a water utility also in the north of country has pledged to forge ahead with a desalination project despite public opposition.

The AES desalination project, in northern Antofagasta will initially have a 4,800 m³/d capacity, the generator said in a release.

A second development phase could take the facility to 19,200 m³/d and supply other clients.
Abengoa will build and operate the plant, with works expected to begin this year and take 12 months to complete.

Meanwhile utility Aguas Antofagasta has said plans for the construction of its US$ 120 million second desalination plant remain unchanged despite community resistance.

The company said its plans to invest 80 billion pesos (US$ 145 million) during 2014-19 to upgrade its network and cope with growing water demand. And it will make 45% of its planned investment in 2014 with the balance spread over the next four years, chief executive, Hugo Masana said.

"We are looking to invest in upgrading infrastructure... building dams, improving technology and hiring new workers throughout the region," Masana told a national newspaper.

"Demographic growth in cities such as Antofagasta and Calama has put greater strain on our infrastructure," Masana said. He went on to says that water demand had increased 17% in Mejillones in recent years.

Aguas Antofagasta serves 161,000 people in the northern cities of Antofagasta, Calama, Mejillones, Taltal and Tocopilla, where some of the world's largest copper mines are located and water demand heavily exceeds supply.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has presented a national infrastructure plan that included US$ 9.9 billion in new concessions until 2020 and US$ 18 billion in public works projects until 2021 The plan involves the construction of two desalination plants in northern Antofagasta region and Atacama region.

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