MAC: Mines and Communities

Chile: Despite major risks, Mina Invierno coal mine is approved

Published by MAC on 2011-02-21
Source: Business News Americas (2011-02-15)

Until now, Chile - the world's most important copper producer - has satisfied its energy requirements by using hydropower and natural gas. Almost all (94%) of its relatively small thermal coal needs are being met by Colombia, Indonesia, Australia and the US [Business News Americas, 6/7/2010].

However, in July 2010, the Minera Isla Reisco company announced that its new Mina Invierno coal venture, in the country's Southern Region X11, would replace "close to 30% of imports" [Business News Americas, ibid; see also Mercopress 8/4/2009].

Despite some continuing community opposition, this precarious mine has now received approval.

Mina Invierno is one of three coal concessions on Isla Riesco that were privatised in 2008. Along with those at Rio Eduardo and Elena, they are said to host more than a billion tonnes of reserves [Business News Americas, ibid].

Bio-Bio

The most important deposit lies in the Bío-Bío region, which hosts almost half Chile's remaining forests. Coal reserves (estimated at 1,302 million tons in 2010) are now considered adequate to supply Chile's energy requirements for 100 years. A number of petroleum-fired electric generators have also recently been converted to coal. [Encyclopaedia of the Nations: Chile Energy and Power, July 2010, Energy and power].

Minera Isla Riesco is a joint venture between Chilean fuel distributor and forest company conglomerate, Copec, and the shipping company Ultramar.

See:Dark Materials: The consequences of clinging to coal

ESPAÑOL

Isla Riesco's Mina Invierno coal project gets environmental approval - Chile

By Victor Henriquez

Business News Americas

15 February 2011

Chilean company Minera Isla Riesco's US$180mn Mina Invierno coal project in southern region XII received approval from the environment ministry's (MMA) evaluation service on Tuesday.

Map of Mineral Isla Riesco
Map of Mineral Isla Riesco
Maps of location of Mineral Isla Riesco
Source: Map of Mineral Isla Riesco

The evaluating commission, led by region XII's governor Liliana Kusanovic and also comprised of regional officers from several ministries, unanimously voted in favor of the project despite opposition from certain communities on Isla Riesco, environmental NGOs and some local authorities.

The project's EIS was submitted around the middle of January last year. Since then, the ministry's evaluation service asked the company to submit three addendums on the project responding to questions made by the ministry and other authorities on environmental issues.

Critics of the project have said Mina Invierno will negatively impact wildlife, forestry and tourism on Isla Riesco, the country's fourth largest island.

Mina Invierno involves an open pit operation to produce 6Mt/y of sub-bituminous coal over a 12-year mine life, based on current reserves of 73Mt. The company's general manager Jorge Pedrals previously told BNamericas that construction is expected to start immediately after getting environmental approval.

Mina Invierno is expected to substantially reduce the country's dependence on international markets by replacing close to 30% of current coal imports with local production. Chile currently imports 94% of coal used in power generation. Mina Invierno will replace imports from countries such as Colombia, Indonesia, Australia and the US.

The Invierno deposit is one of three coal concessions in the zone that were privatized in 2008. Together with Río Eduardo and Elena, the three deposits contain more than 1Bt of reserves.

Minera Isla Riesco is a JV between local fuel distributor Copec and shipping company Ultramar.


Isla Riesco coal project close to environmental approval despite opposition - Chile

By Victor Henriquez

Business News Americas

10 February 2011

Chilean company Minera Isla Riesco's US$180mn Mina Invierno coal project in southern region XII is expected to be approved by the environment ministry (MMA) in the coming days, a source from the ministry told BNamericas.

According to the current schedule, regional and national government agencies involved in the process had until February 10 to submit documents endorsing a consolidated report produced by the MMA's region XII office head Karina Bastidas on the evaluation of the project's EIS.

Once all endorsements are filed with the MMA, the ministry will call for a meeting to make a final decision on approving Mina Invierno, something that is expected to happen next week, the source said.

The project's EIS was submitted around the middle of January last year. Since then, the ministry has asked the company to submit three addendums on the project responding to questions made by the ministry and other authorities on some environmental issues related to the project.

Mina Invierno has received constant opposition from local communities on Isla Riesco, environmental NGOs and even some local authorities, such as independent lower house member Carolina Goic, who has asked President Sebastián Piñera to halt the project and prevent its environmental approval.

Critics of the project have said Mina Invierno will negatively impact wildlife and forestry land, and also tourism on Isla Riesco, the country's fourth largest island.

Goic said Piñera should block the project just as he did in August last year with the 540MW Barrancones coal-fired plant that European power firm GDF Suez was planning to develop in the Punta de Choros area in northern Chile, home to a marine wildlife sanctuary and populations of sea lions, pelicans, dolphins and penguins.

Mina Invierno involves an open pit operation to produce 6Mt/y of sub-bituminous coal over a 12-year mine life, based on current reserves of 73Mt. Construction is expected to start immediately after getting environmental approval, the company's general manager Jorge Pedrals told BNamericas previously.

Mina Invierno is expected to substantially reduce the country's dependence on international markets by replacing close to 30% of current coal imports with local production. Chile currently imports 94% of coal used in power generation. Mina Invierno will replace imports from countries such as Colombia, Indonesia, Australia and the US.

The Invierno deposit is one of three coal concessions in the zone that were privatized in 2008. Together with Río Eduardo and Elena, the three deposits contain more than 1Bt of reserves.

Minera Isla Riesco is a JV between fuel distributor Copec and shipping company Ultramar.

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