Anglo American to stop using fresh water at Los Bronces by 2030

Los Bronces copper mine is Anglos’s flagship mine in Chile. (Image courtesy of Anglo American | Flickr.)

Mining giant Anglo American said on Wednesday that it planned to stop using fresh water at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile by 2030, instead switching to desalinated and recycled water amid a protracted drought in the Andean country.

The miner is trying to convince a government committee, led by the environment minister, to extend its mining permit at the site near the capital Santiago after being rejected by the country’s environmental permit evaluator earlier this year.

The $3.3 billion project has been criticized for its impact on water availability in the populous capital region.

“By the end of the decade and, as I see it, much earlier, more towards the middle of this decade, we will be in the situation of not needing fresh water for Los Bronces,” Aaron Puna, Anglo American’s Chile chief, said in a statement.

“Not only will there be no impact on the Metropolitan region, but what we will be able to do is meet, perhaps, one of the main objectives of the country.”

The firm emphasized it viewed the project in the Andes mountains as viable and said it is willing to work with authorities to implement any environmental measures needed.

Los Bronces is part of Anglo American Sur, majority owned by Anglo American along with a Codelco-Mitsui consortium and Mitsubishi. Chile is the world’s top copper producer and Los Bronces has an annual production capacity of over 300,000 tonnes.

Environmental advocates have criticized the Los Bronces project because of its potential impact on a local glacier as well as on water availability for the region. The company is seeking to extend the life of the mine through 2036.

(By Fabian Cambero; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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