Currently viewing Global edition

Cerro Colorado faces more water measures

BHP’s Cerro Colorado copper mine faces a new existential threat after Chile’s First Environmental Court implemented a new precautionary measure related to the extraction of water from the Lagunillas aquifer for 90 days, or until the company accredits that there is no risk of affectation.
Cerro Colorado faces more water measures Cerro Colorado faces more water measures Cerro Colorado faces more water measures Cerro Colorado faces more water measures Cerro Colorado faces more water measures

BHP's Cerro Colorado in Chile

The news is a blow to the mine which last week, saw the Environmental Evaluation Commission (EEC) unanimously decide in favour of the operational continuity of Cerro Colorado.  The EEC evaluation was stipulated by the First Environmental Court in a September 21 decision. 

In August, the court ordered a 90-day halt to water extraction, which was lifted in September although the extraction rate from the Lagunillas aquifer was restricted to 54 litres per second from the previous 108lps. 

The latest ruling surprised the company given that the court-ordered investigation returned a positive decision on the continuance of mining operations.

"This decision confirms that the measures proposed by Cerro Colorado for the management and recovery of the Lagunillas water supply and its ecosystem have been considered adequate by the competent bodies. Thus, it certifies the development of the indigenous consultation process with the San Isidro de Quipisca Agricultural Association, with which we signed a final agreement protocol, which considered robust measures and commitments acquired with the community," said Cerro Colorado general manager Alejandro Heilbron.

Indigenous communities believe that water pumping to feed Cerro Colorado's operations had almost entirely dried out high-altitude wetlands around its operations.