Anglo looks at desalination as drought hits Chile’s copper mines

With no lifting in Chile’s years of drought, Anglo American Plc is looking into developing a desalination project in collaboration with Codelco, Japan’s Mitsui & Co. and a local water company.

The proposal is to build a plant on the coast of the Valparaiso region that would produce drinking water for residents in exchange for access to wastewater that could be used at mines, said Anglo’s Chile manager Aaron Puna.

“All roads lead to desalination,” Puna said in an interview Monday from London. “We would expect to have something solid left over in the next 12 months.”

Such a project offers a long-term solution for Anglo’s Los Bronces mine, which farms Codelco’s Andina in the mountains above Santiago. Giant copper mines in the desert to the north have been turned into seawater amid depleting freshwater reserves that have resulted in a overhaul of the country’s water rights system and greater protections for glaciers.

At a cost of $ 500 million to $ 1 billion, the desalination project would probably be completed in another four or five years. For now, Los Bronces has been shifted away from fresh water by recycling from tailings dams and using local industrial water.

That solution would allow Los Bronces to advance 3% -5% for first-quarter production support, although exports would have been higher without water restrictions, Puna said. At Anglo’s Collahuasi partnership with Glencore, rains generated by the so-called Altiplanic winter had a greater-than-normal impact on exports, he said.

In addition to a possible desalination plant, Anglo plans to invest about $ 3 billion this decade to keep annual production at Los Bronces at about 350,000 tons. Another $ 3.5 billion will be spent on Collahuasi.

Anglo has not stopped investing and is “committed to Chile”, although it is in the process of drafting a new constitution along with government plans to raise taxes, Puna said. The authors of the new charter are considering radical proposals, including the restoration of private property rights and even the nationalization of mines.

While the company “has a lot of confidence in the political institutions and processes,” the challenge will be to find the right balance between what is best for Chile while maintaining investment incentives, he said.

Anglo looks at desalination as drought hits Chile’s copper mines

Source link Anglo looks at desalination as drought hits Chile’s copper mines

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