Chile: Escondida Water Supply project won the Industrial Desalination Plant of the Year

The Escondida Water Supply project in Chile won the Industrial Desalination Plant of the Year at the 2017 Global Summit. Photo credit: Black & Veatch

At the 2017 Global Water Summit, the Escondida Water Supply (EWS) project in Chile, designed by Black & Veatch, won the Industrial Desalination Plant of the Year in recognition of its size and technical complexity. The plant adds to its water supply by purifying seawater and delivering it to the largest copper mine in the world.

Black & Veatch served as the engineer of record, and spearheaded the engineering design, procurement, resident engineering, pre-commissioning, and commissioning of the marine and desalination components of the EWS project, majority-owned and run by BHP Billiton.

The desalination plant, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, delivers 2,500 litres of water a second – 215 million litres per day – to support the operations at the Escondida mine. Black & Veatch’s engineering solutions advocate safe constructing and operations, promoting high levels of automation, marine tunnels, modular large-scale process units, and process safety controls.

Distinctive offshore and underground construction techniques for the marine works significantly brought down the impact to the littoral zone, an area near the shore where sunlight passes through the sediment, encouraging and allowing aquatic plant growth. Technologically advanced slurry tunnelling machines dug beneath the littoral zone from a shaft located on the shore, straight to the marine works location deep beneath the ocean. The offshore drill, with the largest diameter in the world, punched through the shafts in the rock hard seafloor, and removed any need for any disruptive offshore construction methods.

“We leveraged our global experience in large-scale desalination plants to help provide needed water supplies in an environmentally sensitive manner,” Associate Vice President and Project Manager in Black & Veatch’s water business, Rene Dominguez, said. “There was strong collaboration among the parties involved in succeeding to deliver a landmark project with an expansive scope.”

The project began in July 2013 and project mechanical completion was realised in December 2016.


Source: Black & Veatch