On June 8, 2018, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., through Caitan S.p.A ("Caitan"), a 50-50 joint venture established with Spanish construction group ACS, entered into a project finance agreement for desalination and conveyance projects in Chile. Caitan will procure about USD 500 Million, with eleven global financial institutions taking part in this round of project financing, including Japanese institutions MUFG Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mizuho Bank, Nippon Life, and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Ltd.
Caitan will build, own, and operate a desalination plant and water conveyance system spanning approximately 150 kilometers to provide freshwater for a period of 20 years to a copper mine in northern Chile's Antofagasta region developed by BHP, one of the world's leading resources companies, and the facilities will be transferred to BHP at the end of contract. Design planning and material procurement have continued since the signing of the agreement in October 2017, and construction started in April 2018. Operations are planned to begin in summer 2020.
Copper is needed for infrastructure investment in developing nations and the EV conversion of automobiles, meaning medium- and long-term demand is expected to remain steady. Northern Chile has many copper mines, and as groundwater and river water are used in mine development, water resources are becoming scarce, leading to an increasing demand for desalination. By improving infrastructure in response to increasing demand for water, Mitsui is contributing to the copper industry in Chile.