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REGIONAL REPORTSOUTH AMERICA


pit Quebrada Blanca copper mine and set up a processing plant there. This will include the first large-scale use of desalinated seawater for mining in the Tarapacá region of Chile, rather than freshwater. In fact, millions of dollars’ worth of such desalination plants are under development across the country, Mackenzie said. First copper production at the second


phase of Quebrada Blanca is planned for the second half of 2021. A big project that is currently under way


in the Concepción area is the extension of the Arauco wood pulp and timber mill; one of the two existing production lines will be modernised, and a third will be built. The project also includes the construction


of a wastewater treatment system and a biomass generator that will run on the plant’s by-products, rendering the mill self-sufficient and contributing surplus energy to the national grid. Work began in 2015 and the extension is estimated to start operating in late March 2021, according to Arauco.


Channel bridge Mackenzie also pointed to the construction of the Chiloé Bicentennial bridge that will link the island of Chiloé with the mainland. The 2.75 km bridge will cross the Chacao Channel and is slated to open in 2020 – somewhat later than Chile’s bicentennial, which it was intended to commemorate in 2010. Consortium Puente Chacao (CPC), comprising Hyundai, OAS, Systra and Aas-Jakobsen, is building it. “The only other projects are occasional


observatories and telescopes, which include large mirrors among other equipment. There is a profusion of these, owing to the clear skies in northern Chile.” For instance, in 2019, Andina Freight –


which has offices in Peru, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Panama –was involved in the construction of the new Large Synoptic Survey Telescope on Cerro Pachón for the Association of Universities for Research in


Altius is involved in the ongoing modernisation of Peru’s Talara oil refinery.


Astronomy (AURA) observatory. The new telescope and its gigantic camera are expected to come online in 2020. Coming back to the issue of social unrest


in Chile, Mackenzie said: “We do not really know what the effects will be on projects. Possibly government investment will be shifted to social needs rather than infrastructure and so on, but we will have to wait and see.”


Growth prospects However, he is confident that Chile will continue to grow, albeit perhaps more slowly because of the discontent – and the potential channelling of resources towards areas such as state support and welfare to reduce the causes of that unrest.


He observed: “To cater to social demands,


you need more money – but if you raise taxes, things dry up. So the key is productivity – developing our main exports of mining products, fruit and salmon by adding value – and then the next step is development.” There is also trouble in Bolivia. Evo


Morales (President since 2006) resigned last year following weeks of protest against his disputed re-election in October 2019. There were accusations of election fraud after a hiatus in the vote count, with the Organization of American States, which monitored the election, declaring evidence of data manipulation. Vice President Alvaro García and Senate


President Adriana Salvatierra also resigned. There have been questions about the


Renewables sector booms in Argentina


Energy is high on the agenda in Argentina. In recent years, the government has launched new projects focused on power generation, with laws requiring the biggest energy consumers to generate at least 8 percent of the power they consume from renewable sources. “This has led to a boom in both wind and solar


power projects,” said Alejandro Porrúa, director of Altius America, noting that the company won four logistics contracts for projects in northeastern Argentina in 2019.


68 January/February 2020 In parallel with this, Argentine energy company YPF


Group (through its engineering subsidiary AESA) handled the closure phase of three thermoelectric plants – Rojo, Barker and Villa María. In addition, Altius was awarded the logistics contracts for these three projects. The company also worked on the remodelling of a cogeneration plant in the city of La Plata – another


contribution to a positive year for Altius. Going forward: “In Argentina’s case, indications are that the impending new government (from December


10, 2019) will bet on oil and gas, with the Vaca Muerta shale gas deposits spearheading development in this sector,” Porrúa said. “Likewise, new environmental requirements


herald significant investments in existing refineries, both in Argentina and elsewhere in the region, in order to produce cleaner fuels. “With the right political and economic conditions


to encourage investment, the potential for development is immense,” considered Porrúa.


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