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11 Apr 2022

Mining Technology

Chile: Legal action against Albemarle, Antofagasta, and BHP for alleged environmental damage in Salar de Atacama

See all tags Allegations


" Chile sues miners BHP and Antofagasta for environmental damage", 11 April 2022

"Chile has launched legal action against the mines operated by BHP, Antofagasta and Albemarle on the grounds of alleged ‘environmental damage’ in the northern Salar de Atacama salt flats, reported Reuters citing a court statement.

The lawsuit has been filed in the environmental court by the State Defense Council (CDE) on BHP’s Escondida copper mine, Antofagasta and Barrick Gold’s Zaldívar operation, as well as Albemarle’s lithium assets.

The legal action asserts that the continuous extraction by the miners from the Monturaqui-Negrillar-Tilopozo aquifer, which is said to be an important source of groundwater, had impacted the fragile ecosystem.

In a court document, the CDE said: “For the CDE, the extraction of various amounts of water by the sued mining companies would have caused damage that was foreseeable, since they were aware of the maximum limit of descent that the aquifer could have...

Citing the lawsuit, the First Environmental Court said that the increased exploitation “caused serious, permanent and irreparable deterioration of the aquifer, of the Tilopozo plains, of the fauna, and of the life systems and customs of the Peine Indigenous Community....

Commenting on the lawsuit, Antofagasta’s Zaldivar copper mine was cited by the news agency as saying that the water has been extracted in accordance with its permits, and there was ‘no evidence of environmental damage’.

Escondida said that ‘it is fully convinced that it has acted in accordance with its obligations’ and that its technical studies show no evidence of deterioration in the Tilopozo area of the aquifer..."