Codelco awarded Chilean-Danish consortium with solar plant construction for Gaby Mine

03-Sept-2012 Emol.cl – News
Solar energy will cover about 80% of heat requirements the current electrowinning plant operation has and will avoid CO2 emissions of about 15,000 tons/year

Codelco has awarded a consortium made up by Chilean Energía Llaima SpA and Danish Sunmark to build and operate a thermosolar plant to generate heat for electrowinning process in Gaby Mine. This was the successful closing of the international call for bids that started last year.

Julio Aranis, VP of North Operations of Codelco, representing Minera Gaby SpA and Ian Nelson representing Energía Llaima SpA have signed a contract to supply heat to electrowinning processes in the mining company.

Supply considers construction of a thermosolar plant that will use 99% recyclable flat solar collectors with absorption surface of 39, 000 square meters and a 3,000 cubic meter tank for hot water storage. The plant will be emplaced close to electrowinning building at Gaby facilities in a 13.2 ha Gaby will provide in commodatum. The agreement is firstly set for 10 years at US$60 million and could be extended because of the long useful life of equipments.

From an energy point of view the electrowinning process uses important amounts of diesel fuel to heat electrolyte at 50°C approximately. Heating is achieved with diesel-driven heaters which annual fuel consumption is 8,000 m3 for 120,000 tons of copper fines/year output. The service will also provide heat for minor services such as cathodes washing and reagents heating.

Using solar energy for heating solutions will cover about 80% of heat requirements the current electrowinning plant operation in Gaby mine has and will avoid CO2 emissions of about 15,000 t/year. Thus Gaby will become the largest plant of this type in the world to provide 50 GWh/year to process.

It is estimated the contract will produce about US$7 million savings for Gaby resulting from lower energy costs. Besides, elimination of the 250-fuel-supply-trucks flow per year and higher safety for operations by having in-situ stored heat for a more-than-two-day period are amongst the additional benefits this solution offers.

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