Chile has found another use for dams that hold the liquid waste from massive copper-mining operations: power generation.
Calling it the first project of its kind in the world, Anglo American has installed 256 photovoltaic panels at the tailings dam for its Los Bronces complex in Chile. The panels are floating atop the sometimes-toxic ground minerals and effluents blasted out of rocks dug up at the mine.
The pilot project was expected to generate 150,000 kilowatt-hours a year and help power the operations there, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
While it’s not much electricity in the grand scheme of things, Chile Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica hailed the solar project as yet another example of how the country – the world’s largest copper producer – is leading the way in improving how miners treat waste.