Germany’s MAN Energy Solutions has delivered ten of its 20V35/44G gas engines with a combined capacity of over 100 MW to power a steel mill in Bolivia.

The engines will supply electricity for the El Mutún iron ore mine – one of the largest of its kind in the world – on the border with Brazil.

Estimates indicate that there could be over 40 billion tonnes of iron ore in an area of 75 square kilometers. The site does not just mine iron ore but also processes it into steel directly on-location, which requires large-scale industrial machinery with high energy needs, such as blast furnaces and rolling mills.

“When it comes to processing steel, large and in particular spontaneous load changes are one of the biggest energy supply challenges,” said Martin Höhler, Head of Region Asia Pacific at MAN Energy Solutions.

“Due to the remote location of the El Mutún mine, it simply isn’t possible to ensure satisfactory coverage through the national power grid. Instead, our localized power plant solution guarantees the flexible, reliable and independent supply of electricity at all times.”

He said gas engines were “the perfect choice in this case. Thanks to their high reaction speed, these engines reach their full output in less than five minutes and can handle quick load changes effortlessly.”

Bolivia has rich natural gas deposits and therefore a good gas infrastructure, which means there is a secure supply of local natural gas for the power plant.

Since the mine is located in the heart of South America and very difficult to access by road, the engines had to be delivered by water via the Paraná River. They were transported on barges from Uruguay via Argentina and Paraguay around 2400 kilometers upstream to Bolivia.