Copper represents an incredibly valuable resource for Chile, and the nation is investing significant funds in projects to supply cleaner energy to the vast mining system spread throughout the country. The world’s largest copper producer, Chile is home to an estimated 24% of all known copper reserves worldwide.
Taking advantage of the sun’s strong rays in the Atacama Desert where some of the nation’s largest and most productive mines are located is becoming a main focus of Chile’s copper mining industry. Solar photovoltaic parks in which solar panels act as semiconductors, converting the desert’s intense solar radiation into direct current electric power, have seen a surge of interest and investment throughout Chile, and especially within the mining industry.
Northern Chile’s Collahuasi copper mine in the Tarapaca region, one of the nation’s large mining operations, will expand its portfolio of energy usage to include renewable solar sources. The Collahuasi mine has selected Spanish firm Solarpack to construct a solar energy park that will supply power exclusively for the mine.
The development of this 25 megawatt solar photovoltaic park will permit the Collahuasi mine to meet 13 percent of its daytime power needs via solar energy power. Once the park becomes operational in the fourth quarter of 2013, this greening measure will result in the equivalent of 43,000 tons fewer carbon emissions per year by the mine.
In the future, the Collahuasi mine plans to increase its dependence on solar power and has secured preferential rights to purchase further solar power from planned Solarpack projects in the region. According to the mine’s directors, such measures will continue to demonstrate the Collahuasi mine’s commitment to sustainable development.
Future collaboration between the Collahuasi mine and Solarpack will center on establishing a research and development center near the mine that will focus on solar-power investigations.