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Chile copper miner Codelco puts 50MW wind tender on ice

Chilean state-owned copper miner Codelco has returned deposits to developers as it puts on hold a 50MW wind farm tender, Recharge reveals exclusively.

Codelco had issued a request for proposals (RFP) to build and operate the project in the country's Antofagasta region early last year.

Andrés Alonso, energy resources manager for Codelco, says that after a corporate restructuring which included the creation of his position, the company discovered that its wind measurements were insufficient.

It had measured wind speeds at 50 metres. “Wind can change a lot between 50 metres and 80 metres, so we have to collect that data before going to tender,” Alonso tells Recharge.

Data collection will continue for at least the next six months. In the meantime, deposits that developers had put down to participate in the tender have been returned.

Codelco will reissue the RFP once the measurements are redone.

Although the process attracted significant interest, German developer WPD declined to participate in Codelco's tenders because the measurements were not good and too many unknowns were associated with the project, Lutz Kindermann, general manager for WPD in Latin America, tells Recharge.

Kindermann adds that tender conditions were changed at various times during the process.

The Codelco contract for the project is expected to be 20 years, which would be a boon to a local industry that has had a hard time securing long-term deals.

Environmental licences have already been issued for the facility, 5km from the city of Calama.

The energy generated is expected to represent 6% of electricity consumption in Codelco's northern division.

However, Codelco does appear to be progressing with a 1MW PV plant in partnership with Spain's Solarpack

The plant, Calama Solar 3, also near Calama, will supply power to a large copper mine at nearby Chuquicamata.