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By: Fabian Cambero
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Ten consortiums including companies from China and Europe formally expressed interest on Wednesday in building a landmark $1.5 billion tunnel under the Andes mountains to connect Argentina and Chile.
Chinese companies Power China and the Chinese Communications Construction Company, Spain's OHL and FCC, and Italy's Astaldi and Salini Impregilo are among the interested parties, Chile's minister of public works Alberto Undurraga said.
The planned Agua Negra tunnel would be over 13 kilometers (8 miles) in length and would connect Chile's Coquimbo region with the Argentine province of San Juan, both mining regions. The tunnel would be able to operate year round, unlike existing cross-border roads that pass over the Andes and often must close during winter snowstorms.
Both Chile and Argentina are revamping their infrastructure, drawing interest from Asian companies for the first time. Infrastructure in the area has traditionally been dominated by Spanish and Italian companies.
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