Australia-based mining company BHP has recently completed the Escondida water supply expansion (EWSE) project at its Minera Escondida mine in Chile.

The expansion project is said to increase the desalination capacity of the mine, providing with desalinated water for 100% of its needs, and protecting local groundwater resources. Black & Veatch has been selected as designer and engineer for the EWSE project.

The EWSE project, which began in June 2017, included multiple components to increase desalinated water production capacity by 833 liters per second (l/s).

The original Escondida Water Supply (EWS) project is said to be one of the largest, most complex desalination infrastructure projects in South America.

BHP business line director Iain Humphreys said: “Black & Veatch provided the in-depth knowledge and experience to undertake this strategic project on behalf of BHP and to successfully complete EWSE. Having worked on both projects really pays testament to the high skill level and deep experience of all our professionals.”

Minera Escondida is located in the Antofagasta region in northern Chile, which is said to be one of the driest regions in the world, where water is at a premium.

Black & Veatch was chosen for EWS project in 2013

In 2013, BHP awarded the engineering design, procurement, field inspection and pre-commissioning contract to Black & Veatch for the marine and desalination requirement of EWS project, and the contract works were completed in 2017.

To expand the Escondida desalination facilities, BHP has again contracted Black & Veatch to provide engineering, procurement, construction management services, pre-commissioning and commissioning services.

Black & Veatch mining business senior vice president Jim Spenceley said: “The project was executed on a tight timeline, but Black & Veatch was well-positioned to deliver on this work, given our knowledge of the original EWS project and the client.

“This knowledge allowed us to identify efficiencies, reducing the amount of time to construct and commission and allowing us to safely deliver EWSE ahead of schedule.”