Planners for the Alto Maipo power plant in Chile are relying on machines from German manufacturer GHH to execute what is said to be the country’s largest construction project.

The Rio Maipo supplies the Chilean capital of Santiago with energy. Its source is located over 3000 meters high in the snow-covered Andes, reaching the Pacific Ocean after 250km. On its way it overcomes a considerable gradient and is therefore ideally suited to generating electricity. Santiago’s hunger for energy is great with a population over seven million representing around 44% of the country.

The Alto Maipo hydroelectric power plant with a capacity of 530 MW was planned around ten years ago. The European construction group Strabag, based in Vienna, Austria, was awarded a first partial contract for the construction of the power plant in November 2012. It is located about 50km southeast of Santiago in San José de Maipo in the province of Cordillera. The mega project, which was started shortly afterwards in 2013, has a pricetag of well over one billion euros. According to Strabag, it will secure over 4,700 jobs in Chile.

The project also includes the construction of tunnels with a total length of 74km. These tunnels will carry the water not only from the Rio Maipo but also from the Colorado River to the turbines. The elevation range of the construction site alone is considerable, ranging from 820 to 2,500 meters above sea level (ASL).

ghhaltomaipoproject

GHH MK-A20 dump trucks have been used in construction of Alto Maipo power plant

Strabag chose to use 12 GHH MK-A20 dump trucks for the job, having already used them in other projects around the world due to what the company claims is their robustness, simplicity and reliability. Subsequently the project progressed and the fleet was increased to 28 units of this model, also adding a LHD loader model LF-10, four mixers TM05 and one shotcreter IS26.

This project has also generated a strategic alliance between Strabag and GHH in aftersales matters, such as technical assistance in the field, consulting, machinery repair, component repair, among others.

Reliable specialists are required because two caverns alone with more than 40.000m³ of excavation material each were built. Three hard-rock TBMs, one double-shield TBM and two simple-shield TBMs were used, providing for about 40km of tunnelling. 

A total of three million cubic meters of excavated material were moved. The GHH MK-A20 can carry 20.000 kg or up to 12.5m3 hard or soft rock with an operating weight of 18.955kg. 

The Alto Maipo project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2022. 

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