Chilean copper mining company Codelco has extended its clean energy contract for the Pampa Elvira project with Canadian renewable energy company Innergex.
The renewed contract became effective in April 2023 and will run until the end of 2032.
Codelco originally established the contract for the supply of thermal energy from the solar plant in 2013. Innergex owns a 55% stake in the project.
Solar thermal generators will generate heat at the Pampa Elvira plant, which is located on land owned by the Gabriela Mistral Division, in the Antofagasta region of northern Chile. The solar thermal system aims to offset diesel consumption and water-heating boilers.
The copper electrowinning process requires heat to ensure successful operating conditions: the maintenance of the electrolyte at a temperature of around 47°C, the correct washing of contacts and cathodes, and the preparation of reactive solutions.
With the new solar generators able to supply more than 40,000MWh per year, it is now possible to replace nearly 60% of the fossil fuel consumption in the electrowinning process.
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Codelco supply vice-president Mauricio Acuña said: “This clean energy project allows us to avoid the emission of 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, at the same time that we achieve savings of more than $2m per year.”