Monday, January 28, 2008

Chile is racing to build electrical generating capacity to feed its foreign owned mining sector, which consumes almost 40% of Chile's electricity

Suez Energy to power Chile Esperanza project

SANTIAGO, Jan 28 - Suez Energy International, a unit of French utility Suez, said on Monday it reached an agreement to supply electricity to Chile's $1.5 billion Esperanza copper project, owned by Antofagasta Minerals.

Suez said in a statement it would soon begin construction on the thermoelectric plant (coal fired) that will supply up to 150 MW to the Esperanza mine in northern Chile as of 2011.

The plant will be built in Mejillones, some 1,400 kilometers north of the Chilean capital Santiago, and will feed into the northern power grid.

It will be the second plant of its kind for Suez's Andina Thermoelectric Complex. The first is already under construction and is expected to start supplying a mine owned by Codelco, the world's largest copper company, beginning in 2010.

Chile is racing to build electrical generating capacity to feed its booming mining sector, which produces about a third of the world's copper.

The new plant will be coal-fired and is part of Chile's solution to shortages of natural gas, which has been supplied by Argentina to run northern generating facilities.

Esperanza will be one of Chile's first major greenfield copper projects -- ones built from scratch -- in years.

The mine is expected to be ready for operation in the fourth quarter of 2010 and will add an annual production of some 195,000 tonnes of copper, 229,000 ounces of gold and 1.556 million ounces of silver to Chile's mining roster.

Here is the full article.