The river has its source at over 3,000 m high in the snow covered Andes. It reaches the Pacific Ocean after 250 km. On its way it overcomes a considerable gradient and is therefore ideally suited to generating electricity. Santiago’s hunger for energy is great; the conurbation has over seven million inhabitants. Around 44 per cent of Chileans live here making it nothing less than the political and economic heart of the country.
The Alto Maipo hydroelectric power plant with a capacity of 530 MW was planned around 10 years ago. It is currently the largest construction project in the country. The European construction group Strabag (73,000 employees), based in Vienna, Austria, was awarded a first partial contract for the construction of the power plant in November 2012. It is located about 50 km 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 volume of well over EUR one billion. According to Strabag, it will secure over 4,700 jobs in Chile.
Largest construction project in the country
The project also includes the construction of tunnels with a total length of 74 km. 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 m ASL.
In order to deliver absolutely reliable work in this strategically important construction phase, those responsible decided to use machines from the German manufacturer GHH, among others. During the initial negotiation of 12 GHH MK-A20 dump trucks, for the construction with drilling and blasting method, the criteria used by Strabag to make the purchase was based on the excellent reputation of this machine. Strabag already has used them in other projects around the world, a reputation acquired through the robustness, simplicity and reliability demonstrated by this model. 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.