EIA submitted for 276,000m³/d RO plant in Chile

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) was filed in early September by Minera Escondida, operated by BHP Billiton, for its project Supplementary Desalinated Water Supply for Minera Escondida in Chile.

The EIA goes before the National Environmental Commission of the Antofagasta Region, for its submittal to the Environmental Impact Evaluation System.

The project involves construction of a new 276,000 m³/d ocean water desalination plant at Minera Escondida's industrial facilities in Puerto Coloso, transmission of desalinated water to the mine installations for use in production, and the infrastructure for its storage at the mine site. The new plant is to meet Escondida's current and future water requirements, complementing extraction from groundwater and water exploration programs being carried out by the company.

The plant will produce industrial quality desalinated water using reverse osmosis, and the desalinated water will be transmitted through two parallel aqueducts and high-pressure pump stations through a distance of 180 km to an altitude of 3,100 m above sea level.

Estimated investment in the project of around US$ 3.5 billion does not consider eventual price changes in equipment and supplies for its construction, nor a variation in the size of the plant, the capacity of which could be lower depending on the feasibility of other projects currently undergoing evaluation.

According to the actual plans, the construction phase would begin during the second half of 2009 so that the plant may start its operations in the second half of year 2012.


Chile | Mining | Chile

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