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Sun June 13 2021

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Bechtel to build water supply in world’s driest desert

12 Dec 13 Bechtel has been selected by BHP Billiton for a project to bring a sustainable water supply to the Escondida copper mine in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

Engineering, project management and construction services will be provided by Bechtel. The project involves 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, 185km away and 3,100m 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,” said  José Ivo, general manager of Bechtel’s mining and 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. Also included is the related infrastructure, which includes four high-pressure pumping stations, associated electrical substations, and 114km of high-voltage transmission lines along the pipeline route. Bechtel also will provide  construction management services for the marine works associated with the project.

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