SANTIAGO, July 24 World No. 1 copper producer
Codelco submitted to Chilean environmental authorities changes
to its controversial Andina project that it said would reduce
the mine's potential impact on nearby glaciers and water supply.
State-owned Codelco, which produces about 10 percent of the
world's copper, has said its future hinges on the development of
the project, as dwindling ore grades in its old mines will bring
annual output tumbling down.
The $6.8 billion expansion project, which seeks to push up
the existing mine's total production to 600,000 tonnes of copper
annually, has come under fire from environmentalists due to
concern over possible environmental impact.
"We've worked for over a year to consider each of the
comments we received, holding dozens of meetings, workshops,
listening to the community, authorities and experts," said Rene
Aguilar, Codelco's vice-president of corporate affairs and
sustainability, on Thursday.
"Today we have a better project, with more information and
new measures that address the main concerns and that reduce the
project's impact on its surroundings," he added.
The project will also look to recycle on average 65 percent
of the water used at the new operation.
"Two out of every three liters of water that the Andina
expansion needs will come from recycled water, making the
project very efficient in terms of water resources," said
Codelco's acting projects head, Gerhard von Borries.
The headwaters that flow through the mine's area feed the
water supply in Santiago and the surrounding agricultural region
of the Aconcagua valley.
"We've changed the layout of the open-pit mine, which allows
us to reduce the number of rock glaciers that will partially be
affected," von Borries said.
Five so-called rock glaciers will be partially affected but
no white glaciers will be, he said.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; editing by Matthew Lewis)