Technology group Wärtsilä has signed a three-year Operations & Maintenance (O&M) agreement (with an option to extend for two more years) with Eramine Sudamerica, a subsidiary of the French group Eramet. The Eramet Group has a long history of investment, processing, and innovation, making it one of the key players in mining and metallurgy worldwide. The agreement covers the power plant supplying electricity to the company’s lithium mine, located on the Centenario Ratones salt flat, in Salta, Argentina. The order was booked by Wärtsilä in March 2024. Eramine Sudamérica is set to begin production in 2024, and the first ton of lithium carbonate is expected for the same year. The projected nominal capacity of 24,000 annual tons is expected to be attained by 2025.

The power plant is newly built and has a capacity of 28 MW from four Wärtsilä 34SG engines running on natural gas. Three engines will be utilised to deliver 20 MW of power to the mine, with one engine in standby mode. The remote location of the mine means that there is no connection to the grid, and the facility is reliant on the power plant to supply all its electricity. Operational reliability is therefore essential to maintain production schedules, which will be supported by the performance guarantees and Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centers covered under the agreement.

“We cannot operate without power, so it makes sense for us to have the O&M experts operate and maintain the plant. This ensures continuous reliability and performance of the plant, while we can focus on the business of mining lithium,” says Leonardo Guevara, Director of Supply Chain, Eramine Sudamerica.

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“Wärtsilä has a depth of experience in O&M agreements to deliver peace of mind for customers across the globe. We ensure the continued availability of the power plant, and support this with performance guarantees. We are providing Eramine high energy availability to ensure continuous mine production throughout the year” comments Jorge Alcaide, Energy Business Director, AMER, Region South at Wärtsilä Energy.

The mine is situated approximately 3,800 meters above sea level and has an arid climate. Furthermore, the site is subject to strong gusts of wind and low temperatures that can reach -18ºC. The Wärtsilä 34SG engines are designed to withstand these demanding operating conditions with no negative impact on efficiency or power output, and they also demand minimal water consumption. They also offer a unique fast-starting capability, which will enable rapid response to fluctuations inherent to renewable generation, should the customer add solar power.

Source: Wärtsilä


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Issue 90 of Robban Assafina

(Mar./April 2024)


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