Anglo American said that, after talks and an agreement with a Chilean water desalination provider, it has secured the supply of desalinated water – which will meet nearly half of its needs – for its Los Bronces open-pit copper mine in the country.
Anglo American base metals business CEO Ruben Fernandes said that the miner has a target to reduce its freshwater abstraction in water-scarce regions by 50% by 2030. This new agreement is the first phase of a larger, longer-term integrated water project to eliminate fresh water use at our Los Bronces operation.
Over this first phase, Anglo American will be supplied with desalinated water from a plant that is being built in the Valparaiso region by Aguas Pacífico. The water will be transported via pipeline to the Las Tortolas plant, where it will then be pumped up to the Los Bronces mine.
Anglo American will also provide desalinated water to supply the nearby communities of Colina and Til Til, benefiting approximately 20,000 people.
“The Central zone of Chile, where Los Bronces is located, has been impacted by a decade-long severe drought,” Fernandes said of the impetus for the plan.
Added group director of corporate relations and sustainable impact Anik Michaud: “Beyond this first phase, we are also planning an innovative swap scheme to provide desalinated water for human consumption in exchange for treated wastewater that will supply our operation. This would allow us to stop drawing any fresh water for Los Bronces – our ultimate goal. This innovative approach not only secures industrial water supply for our Los Bronces operation to sustain copper production, but also benefits local communities with the provision of clean water.”
Los Bronces, with a staff of 5,300, has an annual production of 335,000 tonnes. It is located 65 kilometres northeast of Santiago and, in addition to copper, produces molybdenum and cathodes.
Source: Anglo American