How we are supporting sustainable development at our copper operations in Chile.
Chile’s Lomas Bayas copper mine is in the Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world – so water efficiency is essential.
Since 2008 we have been putting in place measures to conserve water. By 2016, 90% of the water we used for “leaching” copper from ore was recirculated.
Since 2011, have also made changes to leach irrigation systems at the mine, which have reduced evaporation by up to 90%.
Together with the Chilean state, we manage the Parque Explora Lomas – a 100-hectare park, in the Calama oasis in the Atacama desert.
At the park, we work with local communities and the Chilean Forestry Service on oasis conservation and environmental education.
For example, in 2017 we delivered 7,500 native trees to the regional government – and we work with residents’ associations to plant trees in the park.
More than 7,000 park visitors, mostly students, have received education since 2009, on topics such as poaching, water resources, sustainable mining, and environmental awareness, including preventing forest fires.
At Lomas Bayas, we contribute to the sustainability of agriculture by helping producers gain access to technology and advice on best practice, including technical and commercial skills.
Since 2008, we have granted competitive awards of USD1,500 each to 57 agricultural producers – with goals such as increasing productivity, increasing water efficiency, reducing animal mortality, or evaluating new crops.
Projects have ranged from growing flowers commercially to producing water-efficient lettuces using hydroponic technology – reducing the amount of water needed per lettuce from 111 litres to just 2.8 litres.
With community concerns in mind, we have worked to reduce sulphur dioxide (SO₂) emissions at the Altonorte copper smelter.
Work began in 2011–12, when we introduced an integrated management system, to help investigate excess emissions and define how to correct them; as part of this phase, we added an automatic burner control system.
Then in 2013, we made further major changes, including replacing the rotary dryer with a steam-driven one.