the 1940s, Peruvian entrepeneur Santiago Antunez de Mayolo started researching how to make
the best use of water resources in the area of Pongor in the central highlands.
In 1945, after a great deal of research,
Antunez de Mayolo presented the study to generate hydro-electric energy on the so-called
first bend of the Mantaro River in the province of Tayacaja in Huancavelica.
Several preliminary studies were carried out
between 1954 and 1961 by consultants from the United States, Japan and Germany, who
confirmed Antunez de Mayolo's proposal was feasible.
So in December 1961 the State set up the
Corporacion Electrica del Mantaro (Corman), a state company in charge of developing and
exploiting the hydro-electric potential of the Mantaro River.
The corporation started operating in 1963, carrying out
a comparative study of proposals from several international firms. As a result, it was
decided to start formal negotiations with the GIE Impreglio Group of Italy. Talks lasted
from March to June 1966.
The contract to supply, build
and finance the Mantaro Project was signed September 1, 1966, while construction equipment
began arriving between January and June 1967, whereupon construction got underway on civil
These works had to get off the ground with
the tasks that would give engineers a view of how the complex would look in the area. One
important aspect of these works involved the construction of new roads that allowed the
contractor to truck in the necessary material andequipment.
At the same time, the contractor
improved existing roads to allow the necessary heavy goods vehicles to pass through the
area. Major camps had to be built in Mantacra, Villa Azul and Campo Armi¤o, so as to
house the thousands of workers who worked on the project. At one point, these camps housed
up to 10,000 workers and their families.
The first stage of the Mantaro Complex
involved the construction of a dam at Enca¤ada de Vigapata, from where the contractor
drilled a 20 km tunnel to Campo Armi¤o. From there, a pressure pipeline was to channel
the water to the site where a machine house would be built to house three generators of
114 Mw each. This stage was inaugurated October 6,
In the second stage of the project, the
contractor installed four additional generators and added two pressure pipelines which
enabled the power station to reach a total potency of 798 Mw. This stage was
inaugurated May 1, 1979.
Five-and-a-half years later, on November 10,
1984, the project inaugurated the third and final stage of the Mantaro complex, namely the
Restitucion hydro-electric plant. This power station uses the water that has already
flowed through the turbines at the Santiago Antunez de Mayolo hydro-electric station to
generate an additional 210 Mw, giving the entire complex a total power of 1,008 Mw. The
water is channeled to the Restitucion hydro-electric plant via a bridge pipeline that
links up with the 800 meter-long intake tunnel that runs underneath Campo Armiño.
More than 30 years have gone by since work started on the Mantaro Project,
and while construction of the main works has yet to finish, Electroperu continues to build
works to take advantage of the water supply in the Mantaro watershed, plus other works
designed to improve the system so as to guarantee a good service and bring more electric
energy and progress.
The work done on the Mantaro project was
truly spectacular because of the tough geography and the harsh climate in the area. The
project claimed several lives before it was built, and even today, when one visits the
installations of the complex, one is overwhelmed by the sight of such a major project.