Bechtel to Engineer Complex Chilean Water System

By on December 20, 2013
Escondida ore concentrator.

Bechtel has been selected by BHP Billiton to provide engineering, project management, and construction services for a water system to support the  Escondida copper mine in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The U.S. engineering firm did not disclose the value of the contract.

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, which is located 114 miles away and 10,170 feet above sea level, Bechtel said in a statement. 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 Jose Ivo, general manager of Bechtel’s Mining & Metals business in the Americas.

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 of high-voltage transmission lines. Bechtel also will provide construction management services for the marine works associated with the project.