Chile's Andina mine to be modified to protect glaciers

Chile’s Codelco, the world's top copper producer, announced today that it will invest $250 million to modify the shape of the current pit at its Andina mine, located in the Valparaíso region.

The goal of the plan is to redirect mineral extraction toward zones where there are no glaciers, while still maintaining the size of the mine and expected output. In a media statement, Codelco said that there will be no changes to expected water usage and mine life. Most of the funds will be used to modify the current design for water distribution and treatment.

The transformation, the company added, will be implemented once the environmental impact assessment is approved. The miner said 450 new employees will be involved in the project, which would take some 36 months to be completed. Works will take place in the higher areas of the surrounding mountains, away from nearby towns.

“The approval of this EIA will allow Codelco to keep up with the current contribution of the Andina Division to the Aconcagua Valley and the country, while management focuses on sustainability in order to ensure compatibility between mining activities and environmental protection,” the media brief reads.

Andina’s proximity to glaciers has sparked criticism from different environmental organizations who have expressed concern over the fate of closeby dome-shaped glaciers.

The mine produced 164,000 tonnes of copper from January to September of 2017.