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Floating solar panels to boost efficiency at Chilean copper mine

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review,

Reuters are reporting that Anglo American have completed the installation of a floating island of solar panels in a tailings pond associated with its Los Bronces copper mine outside Santiago, Chile, a bid to improve efficiency at the deposit.

The 256 panels, tethered to the bottom of the artificial lagoon to ensure proper orientation even in strong winds and changing water levels, have the capacity to produce 86 kW, the company said.

Chile mining minister Baldo Prokurica, who attended a ceremony inaugurating the project, said he saw the programme, the first of its kind according to Anglo American, as a good model to follow.

“I hope that, in practice, it extends to other [mines] in the country,” Prokurica told Reuters. “It’s an excellent alternative for generating energy and making better use of water.”

Los Bronces’ high altitude location on the outskirts of the Chilean capital Santiago has forced the company to seek alternatives. Tailings from the production of copper at the mine are piped 57 km to the low-altitude pond, where they can be reused in industrial processes.

According to the company the pond’s newly installed solar panels also help to reduce the evaporation of water, thereby improving overall efficiency.

Los Bronces produced 370 000 t of copper in 2018.

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