Chile’s copper mining industry will have to increase its seawater consumption to guarantee its operations by 2030, the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) said.
The copper mining industry is expected to increase its seawater consumption by 156pc by 2030, while the consumption of continental water will fall by 6pc in the same period, Cochilco indicated in its report titled “Water and Energy Consumption Projections in Copper Mining.”
Chile’s mining companies plan to build more desalination plants to feed demand, Chile’s mining minister, Baldo Prokurica said on Friday, adding that it is expected 74pc of new mining projects will be supplied by seawater in the next two decades.
Chile expects to produce 7.3mn mt of copper by 2027 and 8mn mt of the metal by 2030, Cochilco indicated. In 2018, the country’s copper output reached 5.87mn mt.
The copper mining industry requires around 0.36m3 of seawater to produce a tonne of copper.
The Antofagasta region, which produces around 50pc of the country’s copper will need to consume 69pc of seawater by 2030 to guarantee its operations. Other regions that will need high volumes of seawater to keep mining operational include Tarapacá (60pc), Atacama (42pc), and Coquimbo (25pc).
Copper miners are looking at increasing the use of seawater as an alternative to beat the drought being faced in Chile that has affected the copper production of some companies.
Recently, Anglo American said that it’s copper production decreased by 13pc to 158,800 tonnes in the Q4 2019, largely due to output reduction at its Los Bronces mine, that lies in a region that is driven by the continued drought conditions in central Chile.