Bechtel contract for Escondida desalination project

BHP Billiton has contracted Bechtel to provide engineering, project management and construction services for the water supply to the Escondida copper mine in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

The project includes construction of a seawater desalination plant, to be supplied by Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, at the Caleta Coloso port and the piping and electrical infrastructure needed to transport the water to the mine, 185 km away and 3,100 m above sea level.

The mine is operated by Minera Escondida, in which BHP Billiton owns a majority stake.

Bechtel will construct the 220,000 m³/d desalination plant and undertake the engineering and construction of two 42 in (1.07 m) 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 114 km of high-voltage transmission lines along the pipeline route.

Bechtel also will provide construction-management services for the marine works associated with the project.
 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.