Chile’s ministry of environment announced on Monday that a committee of government ministers has approved an environmental permit for Anglo American’s $3 billion extension of the Los Bronces project in Chile. Environmentalists and social groups have criticized the initiative due to its potential long-term impact on a nearby glacier and the area’s water supply.
Last May, the global mining company said it would continue to seek approval for the Los Bronces copper mine after being initially rejected by the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA). The committee, composed of the ministries of mining, agriculture, energy, economy, and health and chaired by the environment ministry, is not part of the Chilean EAS but has the power to hear and review environmental resolutions.
According to the ministry of environment, the committee approved the permit on the grounds of a series of “demanding” environmental conditions proposed by the company. The National Mining Society (Sonami) union said the approval would be a “powerful signal” to promote investment in the sector.
The Los Bronces extension aims to sustain production levels and extend the mine’s life through to 2036, according to the company. Anglo American stated last year that it plans to supply half of the Los Bronces project with desalinated water from 2025, amid environmental criticism. The project is part of Anglo American Sur, owned by Anglo American (50.1%), the Codelco-Mitsui consortium (29.5%), and Mitsubishi (20.4%).
In addition, last year, Chilean authorities rejected a project that aimed to extend the life of the small El Soldado copper mine, also owned by Anglo American.