Antofagasta Minerals has a sustainable vision of mining, in which protection of the environment and the efficient use of natural resources are a priority. It is therefore seeking to achieve high standards of environmental excellence.
WHY IS ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT?
Mining has the potential to impact the environment at every stage of the mining lifecycle, from beginning to end. The Group is subject to 54 Environmental Classification Resolutions, imposing more than 6,700 requirements.
The industry is regulated by the Ley Sobre Bases Generales del Medio Ambiente, or the Environmental Principles Act, and other specific requirements relating to the mining sector. The most important environmental institutions are the Environment Ministry, which defines public policy; the Environmental Evaluation Service (SEA), which evaluates and classifies the impact of projects; the Environmental Superintendency (SMA), which implements the law and imposes penalties when necessary; and the environmental courts. The mining projects evaluated by the SEA are required to make specific commitments to prevent, mitigate and compensate for their impact. Compliance with these commitments, contained in a legal instrument known as an Environmental Classification Resolution, is supervised by the SMA.
HOW DO WE MANAGE THE ENVIRONMENT?
In 2017, Antofagasta Minerals developed a new Environmental Management Model to achieve a high standard of excellence, including a zero incident rate and strict compliance with environmental requirements. The Model is focused on four areas: leadership, incident reporting, operating risk management and regulatory risk management. We know that learning is fundamentally important, and that reporting is the key to this; the more information we provide about incidents and the better the reporting, the more we will learn. We are commited to a vision of sustainable mining in which care for the environment and efficient use of natural resources are a priority. The Group has obtained ISO 14000 certification for Los Pelambres and Centinela, and is subject to specific environmental standards relating to such areas as climate change, biodiversity and mine closure.
Responsible site closure
The Group is committed to environmental responsibility throughout the mining lifecycle. In 2016, we adopted a set of integrated corporate site closure standards, covering aspects such as physical and chemical stability of installations, and environmental and social issues. These standards also provide tools for appropriate and effective closure planning, including approval by the authorities, communication to the community, environmental and social impact risk evaluation guidelines, financial aspects and post-closure guarantees, among other issues.
The closure plans for all of our operations have been approved by the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Sernageomin), the government body responsible for these issues. In 2017, we made progress with obtaining approval for the updated closure plans for Centinela. During 2018, progress will be made in updating closure plans of the remaining companies.
Organisation and reporting
All environmental issues are the responsibility of the General Managers of each operation who report on them to the Board. Monitoring and disclosure are the responsibility of the Corporate Environment department.
Los Pelambres has been addressing nine charges (concerning water and vegetation) made by the Environmental Authority and has presented a Compliance Programme to them which was approved in December 2017. Los Pelambres was subject of 69 audits during the year, Centinela 10 and Zaldívar 6 audits. No breaches were identified.
Monitoring and results
The main focus in this area, in 2017 and 2018 was the implementation and monitoring of the environmental management model, with emphasis on the preventive management of regulatory compliance breaches. We have an Environmental Incident Reporting Procedure, which guides the action against these type of events. The environmental requirements are managed in the "management system of environmental requirements", a platform available to the whole mining division. Regarding the reporting of environmental incidents, there was an increase of 114% compared to 2016. In 2017 there were no spills or any other kind of operational incident with significant environmental impact. In 2017 Los Pelambres paid an environmental fine related to the sanction procedure on the archaeological process used at the Mauro tailings dam, which originated from 2011. This fine was appealed and, during that process, the charges were reviewed and revised to US$1.4 million, which was paid during the year.