Chilean Court sides with indigenous communities in Cerro Colorado water casePublished by MAC on 2021-01-16
Source: Reuters, Miningnews.net
The mine extracted about 1.2% of the countryâ€™s total copper output in 2019.
Jan 14, 2020
Global miner BHP will be forced to suspend operations at its Cerro Colorado copper mine in water-parched northern Chile after the country’s Supreme Court upheld local indigenous communities’ complaint about the project’s water use.
The court ruled late on Wednesday night that a routine evaluation of the mine’s environmental project, including by a committee of ministers, failed to take into account warnings by locals that its operations were overdrawing water and impacting local wetlands.
It said the complaint, filed by the San Isidro de Quipisca Indigenous Agricultural Association against the environmental approval granted on Nov. 12, 2016, was upheld.
Cerro Colorado, a small mine in BHP’s Chilean portfolio, produced about 1.2% of Chile’s total copper output in 2019. It now faces a lengthy suspension of its operations while a fresh environmental review already underway is completed.
BHP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what it would do. The company said last July that it would begin to ramp down activity at Cerro Colorado as the coronavirus pandemic threw metals markets into disarray.
The company said at the time that it wanted to ensure the mine remained “viable” for its remaining years, and that it would nonetheless continue “looking for medium and long-term alternatives that would allow it to extend its mining operation beyond 2023.”
Lorenzo Soto, a lawyer for the indigenous group, told Reuters on Thursday that water pumping to feed Cerro Colorado’s operations had almost entirely dried out high-altitude wetlands around its operations in the Tarapaca region.
“We have been raising this for several years,” he said. “The surrounding communities are victims of dust and noise emissions, and any water they have is contaminated.”
He said the Supreme Court ruling was the culmination of a five-year legal battle.
“Cerro Colorado’s environmental operating permit is annulled and, that permit being annulled, the company must stop,” he said. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero, Writing by Aislinn Laing Editing by Paul Simao)
Court rules against BHP in Cerro Colorado water case
BHP faces a water setback at its Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of indigenous communities’ in a complaint related to water use.
18 January 2021
The court upheld a complaint filed by the San Isidro de Quipisca Indigenous Agricultural Association against an environmental approval granted in November 2016 and ruled that a routine evaluation of the mine's environmental project, including by a committee of ministers, failed to take into account warnings by locals that its operations were overdrawing water and impacting local wetlands, reported Reuters.
The indigenous group said water pumping to feed Cerro Colorado's operations had almost entirely dried out high-altitude wetlands.
"Cerro Colorado's environmental operating permit is annulled and, that permit being annulled, the company must stop," said Lorenzo Soto, a lawyer for the indigenous group.
BHP said the mine could continue to operate while it worked to comply with the measures required by the Environmental Court as the Supreme Court did not order it to cease operations.
Cerro Colorado produced 71,700 tonnes of copper cathodes in 2019 and 64,000t in the first 11 months of 2020.