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Bechtel to design and build complex water system for copper mine in Chile  

By Gerald Ondrey |

Bechtel (San Francisco, Calif.; www.bechtel.com) 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 km) away and 10,170 ft (3,100 m) 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,” says 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…
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