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BHP Hires Bechtel to Build Water Plant for Chile Copper Mine

BHP Billiton Ltd. hired Bechtel Group Inc. to build a water desalination plant needed to boost production at Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine.

Bechtel will construct the plant at Escondida’s Coloso port, it said today in an e-mailed statement. Water will be taken to the mine site 114 miles (183 kilometers) inland along a 42-inch pipe. The project also includes four high-pressure pumping stations, a high-voltage power line running along the water pipeline and electrical substations, the contractor said.

BHP, owner of 57.5 percent of Escondida, previously said the desalination plant would cost $3.4 billion. Melbourne-based BHP is carrying out a series of expansions to maintain the mine’s output. Escondida contributed about 6 percent of the world’s copper production from mines last year.

BHP chose Black & Veatch Corp. to build marine works and components at the desalination plant, the Overland Park, Kansas-based company said Oct. 23. The project, due to be finished in 2017, will deliver 2,500 liters (660 gallons) of water a second.

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