Chile’s ministry of environment on Monday said that a committee of government ministers approved an environmental permit for a $3 billion extension of Anglo American’s Los Bronces project in Chile.
Environmentalists and social groups have criticized the initiative located in the Andes Mountains, near the Chilean capital, for its long-term impact on a nearby glacier, as well as on the area’s water supply.
Last May, the global mining company said it would continue to seek approval for the Los Bronces copper mine after being initially rejected by the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA).
The committee – made up of the ministries of mining, agriculture, energy, economy, and health and chaired by the environment ministry – is not part of the Chilean EAS but has the power to hear and review environmental resolutions.
In a statement, the ministry of environment said the committee approved the permit on the grounds of a series of “demanding” environmental conditions proposed by the company.
The National Mining Society (Sonami) union said the approval would be a “powerful signal” to promote investment in the sector.
The Los Bronces extension seeks to sustain production levels and extend the mine’s life through to 2036, according to the company.
Anglo American said last year that it would supply half of its Los Bronces project with desalinated water from 2025, amid environmental criticism.
The project is part of Anglo American Sur, owned by Anglo American (50.1%), the Codelco-Mitsui consortium (29.5%) and Mitsubishi (20.4%).
Last year, Chilean authorities rejected a project that sought to extend the life of the small El Soldado copper mine, also owned by Anglo American.
(By Fabian Cambero and Isabel Woodford; Editing by Brendan O’Boyle and Sandra Maler)