Mining processes are energy intensive in their operation. One of them is electro winning (EW), where it is required to heat water or electrolyte solutions in order to optimize the process and thus to obtain high quality cathodes. One of the main heat sources used for heating these solutions is diesel fuel. Up to some years ago Gabriela Mistral Division of Codelco (formerly Minera Gaby) was no exception and used petroleum fuel to heat up process water.

However, in the search for cleaner initiatives, respectful of the environment, this Division of Codelco, state owned corporation and world largest copper producer, in 2012 signed a contract with Energia Llaima (Chile) and Arcon-Sunmark (Denmark), whereby this consortium would build and operate a solar thermal plant which would heat 80% of the water required for the EW process.

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Nelson Salazar

Gabriela Mistral Division has endeavoured to be a benchmark in the mining industry and we work each day to reach and sustain it. Pampa Elvira Solar, the most powerful solar thermal plant in the world, is a proof of this.

Nelson Salazar
Plant Manager


Aperture area (effective): 43,920m2
Number of solar collectors: 2,928
Storage capacity: 4,300m3
Share of annual heat demand: approx. 80%
Calculated peak capacity: 34MW
Calculated annual production: approx. 80.000MWh