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ACCIONA Agua is awarded the extension works on the Copiapó desalination plant, in Chile


The Company will develop solutions for transporting iron concentrate, conducting water through a steel pipeline and pumping in series from the desalination plant.

The Company will develop solutions for transporting iron concentrate, conducting water through a steel pipeline and pumping in series from the desalination plant.

ACCIONA, through the ACCIONA Agua and ACCIONA Infrastructure divisions, has been selected by the Compañía Minera del Pacífico (CAP Group) to carry out water conduits and concentrate project works related to the Minero Cerro Negro Norte Project located in the Copiapó Valley, in Chile's Atacama Region III.

The new contract involves the development of an end-to-end solution for the iron concentrate and transport system from the CNN mining plant to the filtering plant, located at the Punta Totoralillo Port, by means of a concentrate pipe. It will also use a steel pipeline and a pumping in series system from the desalination plant, located on the coast, to provide water for the mining operations. The budget for the project comes to US$143 million (around 106 million euros) and the plant is expected to come into service in 2013.

Last March, ACCIONA won designs, build, entering into service and 20-year operation contract for the same plant, which will have an initial capacity of 200 liters/ second (17 million liter/day), which could be stepped up to 600 liters/second (52million liters/day), and which is scheduled to come into operation sometime in 2013.

The desalination plant will be built near the Punta Totoralillo Port, one of several owned by CAP Minería in Atacama. It is located 25km north of the city of Caldera, 82km from the mining operations at Cerro Negro Norte and 120km from the Planta Magnetita operations, located in the area known as Tierra Amarilla. This project arises from the need to ensure the water for the mining operations in this region. The plant uses Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology and is subject to the most demanding environmental and quality standards.

The coming into service of a desalination plant in the area takes on even greater importance as a water solution given that the Atacama Desert, which abounds in mineral resources, is considered to be one of the driest regions on the planet. It is located in Northern Chile and south of Peru, between the Loa and Copiapó rivers, in the Antofagasta region, north of Atacama region. It is flanked by the Andes mountain range and the coastline and covers an area of 105,000 square kilometers.

Copiapó has been historically a mining area. Its climate makes it a good farming area and each year sees the country's first fruit harvest there. In the 1980s and 1990s both farming and mining activities increased leading to serious water shortage. There are nearly 60 mining operations in the valley and they are a major contribution to the economy. At a regional level, this activity accounts for 50% of GDP.

The project consolidates ACCIONA Agua's presence in Chile and enables it to further diversify its water treatment activity for mining operations. ACIONA Agua first entered Chile in 1993. The first to open offices there was the Infrastructure division and it was followed later by ACCIONA Energy and ACCIONA Agua. Today, ACCIONA has 163 employees in Chile. ACCIONA has built four wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) in Valdivia (total capacity: 25,000 m2/day), Osorno (40,000m3/day), La Ligua (5,000m3/day) and Temuco (158,000 m3/ day).

Recently, ACCIONA Agua won major contracts in Latin America. They include the Atotonilco (Mexico) WWTP, the largest of its kind in the world); the Peravia water Treatment Plant and Multiple Aqueduct, in the Dominican Republic), and a technical assistance and maintenance contract for Brazil's Arrrudas WTP, and two major contracts in Peru: a build, design and O&M contract for the Escalerilla WWTP, in Arequipa, and the Chira WWTP, south of Lima.

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