Anglo American says Chile Los Bronces mine project will not harm glaciers, biodiversity

FILE PHOTO: The Anglo American logo is seen in Rusternburg October 5, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Anglo American said on Friday it had submitted an environmental impact study for a $3 billion project seeking to maintain output from its flagship Los Bronces copper mine in Chile.

The overhaul proposes to move part of the mine underground where miners can access higher-grade copper and also, reduce environmental impact, the company said.

The deposit sits in the high Andes mountains above the Chilean capital of Santiago. Its proximity to glaciers, nature reserves and the sprawling city of 6 million has drawn the scrutiny of both regulators and environmentalists.

Anglo American said in a statement it had chosen a more costly plan so as not to impact glaciers, biodiversity or increase the use of scarce freshwater resources in the metropolitan region.

“We are convinced that this is a proposal that will allow all the stakeholders in the region to co-exist,” the company said in the statement.

The company did not give an estimate for how long the review process is expected to take.

Anglo American operates Los Bronces and holds a 50.1 percent interest in the copper mine, among the world´s largest. The mine sits at 3,500 meters (11,500 ft), and just 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Santiago.

(This story corrects last paragraph to clarify that Anglo American operates the mine alone, not together with Codelco).

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama