In the Andes, one of the world’s top producers of copper is turning to solar to cut costs and boost efficiency. Multinational mining corporation Anglo American says their solar “power island” has a capacity of about 86 kW, and will help conserve water that would otherwise be lost to evaporation.

The installation will float atop a tailings pond near the company’s flagship Los Bronces copper mine outside Santiago, Chile. The 256 solar panels will remain tethered to the bottom of the man-made lagoon, ensuring proper orientation in all conditions.

Chilean mining minister Baldo Prokurica applauded the turn to alternative energy, calling it a “model to follow.” Last year, the Los Bronces mine produced 370,000 tons of copper.

“I hope that, in practice, it extends to other [mines] in the country,” Prokurica said. “It’s an excellent alternative for generating energy and making better use of water.”

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