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Codelco to produce “green” copper

Gabriela Mistral mine. Image: Codelco.

The president of Chilean Codelco, Nelson Pizarro, announced Friday that the state-owned company has plans to produce sustainable copper cathode in the years to come.

In an interview with Reuters, Pizarro said that the idea is to generate a product attending to very strict environmental and social considerations. This, in turn, would result in a more expensive type of copper.

According to the executive, this pilot project is taking place at Codelco’s Gabriela Mistral mine, located in the Antofagasta region. Also known as “Gaby,” the deposit has reserves of 620Mt of oxide ore, with an average grade of 0.41% copper.

The mine seems to be a test field. Back 2013, the company installed there the thermosolar plant Pampa Elvira Solar, which generates an average of 54,000MWh/y and provides 85% of the power needed for the division’s SX-EW copper plant. Official reports state that the installation has reduced the mine’s CO2 emissions by 15,000t/y.

“We have the opportunity to seize socio-environmental variables and turn them into opportunities to create added value,” Pizarro said.

Codelco’s green plans also include the construction of a desalination plant that processes 630 litres per second and supplies water, at competitive prices, to different mining sites in northern Chile.