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Steady progress at SADDN in Chile

Published 2.11.2023

Techint Engineering & Construction is forging ahead to open the right of way before laying the pipes, while earthworks are under way at the desalination plant and the northern access to the bilge pond.

During the month of September, work at the Desalinated Water Supply for the Northern District (SADDN) project moved onto the stage to open up the right of way at kilometer 135. Currently the works team numbers some 35 people, and this number is expected to grow as new work fronts open.

Tiago Zurita, Pipeline Construction Manager, points out that, “We are carrying out planned construction engineering work to offset the risk related to pipe curvature, which is a major variable when working with 48” pipes. This is how we are projecting the task to lay the pipeline, which will be followed by the grading work for the right of way. We also need to take into account the hardness of the ground, considering the large volumes of earth that need to be moved.”

Zurita adds that the team is working with heavy machinery for digging and earthworks tasks, and highlights that the emphasis is on carrying out thorough safety drills every day thanks to daily surveys using mapping drones.

Work has also begun with subcontractor IDE on the earthworks for the desalination plant in Caleta Viuda. This plant will treat salt water that will then be pumped into the propulsion system to reach the mine.

“We will be moving over 80,000 m³ of earth, and using another 30,000 m³ as filler. We’re using heavy machinery for deep digging, in addition to fuel supply equipment,” comments Rafael Marchetti, the Construction Manager at the Desalination Plant.

He goes on to say that, “We are crossing work with the first two machines so we can start paving the internal access roads, enabling us to leave the ground in the right conditions for our subcontractor Belfi to start work, as they are in charge of the water works.”

According to Roberto Diaz, Site Manager, “it’s essential to start building the roads and open the right of way as soon as possible, so that we can anticipate any difficulties with terrain and define the route for the pipeline. So far, we have achieved excellent results, and have laid some 8-9 kilometers of track.”

Regarding project milestones, Díaz highlights the progress made in improving the road between Route B-160 and the area where Pumping Station 2 (EB2) will be located, at PK4 on the pipeline route, some 2.5 km from the aforementioned route. “Today, we’re digging the foundations for the pumping station, some 50,000 m³ of earthworks in total, and are about 50 percent of the way there,” he mentions.

Diaz also refers to the earthworks under way to build the Camp KM100 platform: “Over 75% of the digging is complete, reaching a total of 70,000 m³. This work will be completed in the first fortnight of November, after which the company Tecno Fast will begin the module assembly phase. This subcontractor already assembled the first building in the camp at km 14, on platform 4, and the second module is currently being put together. Meanwhile, the assembly of the modules for the Administration, Access Control and Polyclinic building on platform 3 has already finished, and now the team is finishing up the services and terminations. This is a really major advance.” 

A challenge at every step

So far, the team has successfully overcome a number of challenges, but there is still a long way to go.

One key aspect has been the application of the Social and Environmental Management System (SGSA, in Spanish), which has taken into account the corporate guidelines drawn up by Codelco, Aguas Horizonte and Techint E&C. An overriding priority is the care of flora and fauna, especially some species in danger of extinction, such as the garuma seagull and a certain type of cactus. A survey was held at the outset of the work to ensure that these and other species would not be affected, and some reptiles had to be relocated.

Another concern is Safety, a critical issue that must be addressed throughout the development of the project. At this stage, the focus is on human-machine interaction to avoid road accidents.

For his part, Marchetti refers to the “huge synergy we need to achieve between contractors, subcontractors, Techint E&C and our customer, Aguas Horizonte, since they are all important players in a large work team that must function in an articulated manner in order to advance successfully."

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