One of the largest copper mining companies in the world is set install a solar power project to power part of its operations in Chile.
SunEdison has announced that it has signed an agreement with Antofagasta Minerals S.A. to set up 69.5 MW solar photovoltaic power project at one of the latter copper mine in Chile. Antofagasta plans to use solar power to meet a part of the electricity demand at its Los Pelambres mine.
This would not be the first clean energy initiative to be implemented by Antofagasta for the Los Pelambres mine. The mine operators, from the very beginning, had a clear plan to implement sustainable energy solutions. Currently, wind energy is being used to partly power the mine operations. After the solar power project, the mine operator plans to use hydro power as well. By 2015, 30% of mine’s energy supply would come from renewable energy projects.
Antofagasta needs to invest in renewable energy, as it reported a 5% increase in CO2 intensity between 2012 and 2013. The company reported total emissions of about 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2013. The average CO2 emission intensity from the company’s mining operations in 2013 was 3.09 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of copper produced.
El Tesoro, another mine owned by the company in Chile, gets some of the electricity from a solar thermal power plant. The project, installed at an investment of $15 million, can generate 25 GWh electricity every. The project has helped reduce diesel consumption by 55% and mine’s emissions by 4%.
Los Pelambres mine currently has an electricity supply contract from one of Chile’s wind energy projects. The mine will start sourcing hydro power from a 110 MW project from 2020. The company is planning to invest in a geothermal power project as well.
Image Credit: Antofagasta