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Powering a copper mine in the Atacama Desert

Client: Corporatión Chilene del Cobre (CODELCO)

Location: Atacama Desert, Chile

Sectors: Mining

The Challenge

Provide reliable power in a remote and harsh location

When you're somewhere 100 times more arid then a place called ‘Death Valley’ you know you're in a harsh environment. Corporatión Chilene del Cobre (CODELCO) is the world's largest producer of copper but they have to go to the Atacama Desert, 2,700 metres above sea level, to get it.

The Gaby copper mine has more than 4,000 workers, so a constant source of power is an absolute necessity. CODELCO needed a reliable power partner who could stand up to the conditions, who knew mining regulations like the back of their hand, and who could provide them with reliable power. We knew we could help.

Fact File Heading

More arid than Death Valley 100x
Above sea level 2700Metres
In the camp 4000 workers
Time to install 10 days
Power supplied 5MW

The Impact

A safe power supply that our customer could rely on

CODELCO could see requirements were being met by entering the control room. The bank of monitors allowed a birds-eye view of how the system was coping overall, as well as a micro view of all the operating units. Its full diagnostics capacity prevented any unforeseen outages and the technicians could save on fuel costs by dialling the power up or down, according to demands. Knowing the fuel tanks had been tested against strict health and safety regulations and were self-bunded and pressure tested to make sure they never leaked, our customer had full confidence that the system was safe, reliable and robust.

“We knew the conditions were unforgiving. That’s why we double-checked all equipment and paid strict attention to health and safety.”

The Solution

A system of generators to supply power across the mine

Within 10 days of receiving the letter of intent we were up in the Atacama Desert, supplying power to the site through small generators scattered across the mine. We installed a 5 MW system of generators, transformers and bulk fuel tanks, together with adding a control room soon after to provide the total requirements. We included a trailer-mounted 1,000 litre fuel tank, complying with all health and safety requirements, as part of the storage and delivery system. And our technicians provided 24-hour on-site service to ensure an uninterrupted power supply.