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Hybrid solution in the Andes saves millions for mine

Client: Gold Fields

Location: Atacama region, Chile

Sectors: Mining

The Challenge

Providing safe, reliable power at extreme conditions

Following on from Aggreko’s successful work at the Granny Smith Gold Mine in Western Australia, Aggreko will work to provide a unique and market-leading power solution for a new Gold Fields open pit mine in Chile, Latin America.

The Salares Norte Mine, a green field project located in Northern Chile, presents unique challenges. The open-pit gold mine sits at an altitude of 4,500m in the Andes mountain range, 190km from the nearest town, and is not connected to any local power grid systems, making logistics and operations challenging from the off.

To meet the dual challenges of providing a consistent power supply and doing so in these extreme conditions, using a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not an option.

In addition to these physical challenges, the Chilean government applies stringent environmental regulations to such projects, with Gold Fields further requiring a minimum 20% renewable power generation for all mining operations. As such, the finished solution must work to minimise carbon emissions whilst delivering reliable power for the mine.

To meet the unique demands and requirements of the mine, which at full capacity will produce 450,000oz of gold per year, Aggreko will develop an equally ambitious and market-leading solution.


Cost of energy savings $7.4 m
Emissions reduced by 10,511 Tonnes
Of carbon tax savings 1.1 m
Of Diesel 16MW
Of Solar PV 9.9MW

The Solution

A tailor-made hybrid power system featuring Aggreko’s largest solar PV installation in Latin America

To ensure safety and provide adequate support at all five delivery points, Aggreko will supply 30 G3+ diesel gensets. Each genset will deliver 772 kW at 4,500m altitude, with a total de-rated capacity of 23 MW.

Aggreko’s bespoke PV solution goes above and beyond the government and Gold Fields’ environmental and renewable energy standards, and will lead to a saving of $700,000/year in energy costs, and a further $1.1m in carbon tax offset over the project’s lifetime – a total saving of 10,511 tonnes of carbon.

To improve the energy cost and reduce environmental footprint, Aggreko will also install 9.9 MW of solar PV capacity. While the site and its unique geography lends itself to solar PV power, the altitude and extreme wind conditions will call for specially designed units. Aggreko has worked to assess the exact demands, pressures and conditions these units will experience at the site, and has developed a tailor-made solution to withstand these challenges, providing an additional layer of environmentally-friendly power.

The solar PV solution Aggreko will install is comprised of three unique platforms:

Platform 15 - 0.9 MW

Mirador Alto - 5.9 MW

Platform Botadero - 3.1 MW

This unique design involves domed PV structures to deal with extreme wind conditions, together with redesigned inverters to maximise the power production and generator performance. With this ground-breaking configuration, Aggreko will be able to ensure Gold Fields’ energy reliability requirements are met and simultaneously face challenging site conditions.

The resulting hybrid system will be Aggreko’s first hybrid installation in Chile and the company’s largest solar installation in Latin America.

To deploy this solution, Aggreko has worked collaboratively with the customer to structure a tariff payment system based on capacity and effective energy delivery. This approach will also allow for a consolidated CAPEX outlay, allowing for greater balance sheet control while allowing for continued strong operational performance.

The contract agreed with Gold Fields for this project spans 10 years, which is far longer than the average contract terms for projects of this type - another indicator of the strength of the relationship between Aggreko and Gold Fields.


The Impact

$1.1m cost saving and 10.5 tonnes of carbon offset

Ahead of the mine’s official opening, Aggreko will work as the site’s sole power supplier, delivering a sustainable and bespoke solution to fulfil the unique needs of the site. The modular, high-altitude-efficient diesel gensets will work to provide reliable power to all generation points at the site, incorporating both spinning and cold reserve units, adding an additional level of security and reliability.

The unique hybrid solution provided by Aggreko will support the site’s operations and allow it to run completely off-grid, delivering sustainable and reliable power, 24 hours a day. This project is the latest in a number of projects globally where Aggreko has worked hand-in-hand with a range of customers to meet specific demands in unique conditions, and marks an important step in the development of Aggreko’s relationship with Gold Fields.