On-demand power to support a copper mine

On-demand power to support a copper mine, Chile, South America


The Escondida copper mine, jointly owned by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, needed back-up power to protect against possible power restrictions from the national grid.

The mine was located 3100 metres above sea level, a height at which generators perform at less than 70 per cent of their efficiency, making an on-site installation less viable. Colosso Port, located over 200 kilometers away from the mine, was selected as an alternative site.

An additional requirement of the project was that the mine's environmental policies required the level of nitrous oxide (NOx) produced by the power plant to be minimised.  A solution had to be designed, installed and commissioned within three months.


Aggreko commissioned a 60 MW power project which included custom-made catalytic convertors built into Aggreko's standard generators, reducing NOx emissions from the plant by 90 per cent. The generators were calibrated to 13.8 kV/ 50 Hz in order to suit local specifications, with the power being fed in directly to the existing power lines in the area. Due to the distance of the power plant from the mine site, Aggreko's turn-key service was instrumental in providing a trouble-free power source for the mine operators, as all operational elements of the project were provided by Aggreko. The stand-by power plant was capable of coming on-line with only ten minutes notification from Escondida managers.

Why was Aggreko chosen?

As the proposed site for the project was located over 200 kilometers away from the mine site, Escondida's operators needed a solution which would allow them to out-source all aspects of the power project.  

Aggreko's turn-key service allowed the customer to focus on their core business, knowing that Aggreko's operations team was on-site at all times to meet the requiremetns of the customer at short notice.

In addition, Aggreko was able to modify its purpose built equipment, in order to satisfy the customer's requirements for low emissions and unusual voltages.