BHP’s Cerro Colorado copper mine was handed a small victory by Chile’s First Environmental Court when it ruled to suspend a water pumping ban for 90 days while the miner prepares a new operational continuity plan.
The latest ruling allows BHP to extract 54 liters per second of water for production purposes, “for a final term of 90 calendar days.” Once that period expires, the mine will not be allowed to continue to extract water if it has not secured an approval for its environmental plan.
In July, the court ruled that the small copper mine must start again from scratch on an environmental plan for a key maintenance project as the initial approvals failed to “correctly evaluate” environmental risks, and failed to properly consult with local indigenous communities.
The court then ordered “precautionary measures” in August that included ceasing groundwater extraction for 90 days from an aquifer near the mine, which BHP appealed.
Cerro Colorado produced about 1.2% of Chile’s total copper output in 2020. The country is the largest copper producer in the world.