Promoting dialogue across the territory

We are convinced that maintaining good relations with communities in the areas near our operations requires an innovative approach to communications and how we contribute to their welfare. This is why we continue to advance the implementation of our community engagement process, with the aim of building a shared vision for local development.


Antofagasta Minerals believes in contributing to the sustainable development of the areas and communities in which it operates. This means understanding the area’s challenges and becoming part of the solution by deepening the engagement processes aimed at building a shared vision in order to foster local development.

This approach is consistent with stakeholders’ expectations and is aligned with our corporate values and approach to human rights and adherence to the ICMM principles.

Antofagasta Minerals operates in very different geographic regions in Chile. Centinela, Antucoya and Zaldívar are located in the north of the country, in the Atacama Desert, in an area with a history of mining and with a low population density.

Los Pelambres is located in the Coquimbo Region, in the central part of the country. Its operation is across the Choapa Valley, from the mountains to the sea, which is home to over 80,000 people in 42 communities, working in agriculture, farming, artisanal fishing and tourism.

This geography, along with changing social expectations, has made the challenges facing the mining industry in its coexistence with local communities more complex for Los Pelambres than for the operations in the north. The Group has therefore reframed its approach with a new community engagement process, being rolled out across all of the operations.


Key concerns in the Coquimbo Region are water scarcity, coexisting with mining operations and human safety in case of emergencies. To manage these concerns and find joint solutions, Antofagasta Minerals participates in various forums with local stakeholders. In 2016, the Group made progress on the commitment to hold discussions with the community regarding these issues, and reached several important agreements.

Since the incorporation of Zaldívar, the Group has intensified its existing relationship with the indigenous communities in the Peine area to maintain a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship reinforced by dialogue and understanding.

In order to sustain an ongoing relationship with communities, the Group’s operations use various formal communication mechanisms, such as discussions with residents, working groups, meetings, joint monitoring, community visits to the mines and the use of media, websites and social networks. It also has a system to ensure the follow up on commitments undertaken with the community and to investigate and respond to any complaints.

In 2016, grievance management and social and environmental commitment procedures were standardised across the Group. Most of the 87 grievances received in 2016 related to unpaid contractors and subcontractors’ invoices.

Antofagasta Minerals has transformed the way it interacts with its neighbours, prioritising open dialogue with local communities and other stakeholders in the area, building a shared vision for development, and promoting varied projects and programmes to realise this vision. This new approach was first applied at Los Pelambres and its surrounding area under the name ‘Somos Choapa’.


Using the principles of dialogue, collaboration, traceability, excellence and transparency, this process establishes a methodology to maintain ongoing dialogue with communities, authorities and other stakeholders, reducing information asymmetry and offering space for all parties to participate in decision making. Somos Choapa represents an integrated platform for the sustainable development and a joint opportunity for public and private investment in the short, medium and long term.


In 2016, progress was made on the implementation of the project portfolio derived from the Somos Choapa initiative and on the inclusion of the municipality of Los Vilos into this dialogue. There was also progress in the Antofagasta Region around participative dialogue for community engagement with the residents of Calama Poniente.

Antofagasta Minerals identifies and manages the social risks and impact of its operations and projects. It takes responsibility for the legitimate concerns of the community regarding coexistence with the mine and how to act in the event of any emergencies that might affect them.


During the construction stage of the mining project, social impacts are mainly associated with the arrival of large numbers of temporary employees to the communities surrounding the mine and the increase in vehicle traffic. During the operating stage, the social impacts change to road safety, residents’ perception of risks regarding air and water quality, the availability of water for irrigation and the safety of facilities in emergency situations.

On launching a new project, Antofagasta Minerals holds early citizen engagement events in addition to the mandatory consultation required by Chilean law. For example, the desalination plant that will be built as part of the Los Pelambres Incremental Expansion project, was explained to over 800 residents of Salamanca and Los Vilos, who had opportunities to voice their concerns, opinions and suggestions before the project entered the Environmental Assessment System.

Regarding road safety, periodic accident prevention programmes and education initiatives are held in conjunction with the authorities.


In the Choapa valley, issues concerning water and air are particularly important. To make the monitoring process more transparent and the results more accessible, joint water quality monitoring has taken place regularly since 2011. Representatives from the community and Los Pelambres take part in the sampling process together with a technical team from the authority responsible for taking the samples, which are analysed at accredited laboratories. Currently three teams are sampling the Choapa River, the Pupío stream and the Camisas stream and the results are published on the website of the Choapa River monitoring Board and are discussed at community meetings.

Los Pelambres has a representative on the Choapa River Board and collaborates with canal and drinking water associations to monitor the availability and management of water resources in the Choapa Province. The mine also committed to finding solutions to the problem of water availability when it signed the Salamanca Agreement and ensuring the availability of water was also one of the subjects of the Caimanes Agreement.

Los Pelambres has also agreed with the Cuncumén air quality forum to establish measures and controls for the mitigation of particulate matter in nearby facilities where the community helps assess the controls on a daily basis.


In February 2015, a group of residents from Salamanca blocked the access road to Los Pelambres, demanding that the mine waive its rights to use water from the Choapa River. Using its new community engagement process, the mine faced this crisis with a progressive approach, accepting the residents’ distress under difficult drought conditions and their expectation that the mine should contribute to finding solutions.

To achieve this, Los Pelambres led a discussion with representatives from the municipality, waterdependent organisations, the government and local congress. As a result, in March 2015 the Salamanca Agreement was signed, defining measures for dealing with drought in the short, medium and long term and coordinating the efforts of public and private stakeholders. Significant progress has been

Significant progress has been made since the agreement was signed, including:

  • Los Pelambres commitment to use seawater in its new projects. Studies for a desalination plant to partially supply the operation during critical periods have been submitted for environmental assessment.
  • Studies have been carried out to support the government initiative to build a desalination plant for drinking water. Los Pelambres agreed to widen the scope of the feasibility study for its own desalination plant, which will produce industrial water, looking for synergies with the creation of a public desalination facility.
  • The national Water Agency awarded a tender for the implementation of an integrated water resources management plan in the Choapa River basin. Results are expected by the end of 2017.
  • Within the framework of the agreement between Los Pelambres and the Regional Development Corporation, a plan was agreed for supporting the Rural Drinking Water associations and improving the water infrastructure for small farmers in the Salamanca area.

In 2017, Los Pelambres will continue to develop these initiatives and continue the work of the committees in the regions in order to comply with the agreement’s provisions.

Tailings dams and other Group facilities are designed to withstand the impact of earthquakes and extreme weather. In case of emergency, the operations have coordinated with the relevant public services and local authorities on emergency procedures and action plans. These include preventive measures at operational level, such as the suspension of operations when recommended, and providing assistance for residents.

A key topic for discussion between Los Pelambres and the residents of Caimanes, which began at the end of 2015, was their demand for better information and increased participation in the design of these emergency plans. In 2016, progress was made on updating the Emergency Manual for the Mauro dam and on the safety works.

Participative Design of a Contingency Plan

Los Pelambres had already initiated a dialogue with communities around the Mauro tailings dam when in September 2015 an earthquake measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale hit the area, its epicentre just 90 km from the dam. A few hours after the earthquake, the mine invited local leaders to personally inspect the dam wall and they were able to see it was undamaged.

In accordance with Chilean legislation, the dam had an operational emergency plan in place to care for its employees, residents and the environment. This plan is set out in the dam’s emergency manual, approved by Sernageomin. However, the experience of the September 2015 earthquake reinforced the idea that a participative process was required in order to take into account the Caimanes residents’ concerns and suggestions.

As a result of this dialogue between the community and Los Pelambres, in 2016 a Contingency Plan was designed for Caimanes which complements the emergency manual. The main points of this plan are:

  • Setting a new safety zone in Caimanes and installing signage and lighting to improve access and the evacuation of the community to this zone in case of emergency.
  • The installation of an audible alarm system to warn the community in case of an evacuation.

The above is supplemented with three containment works or gabion walls around the Pupío stream, also provided for in the Agreement.

The implementation of the Contingency Plan is progressing according to plan. 

Performance Data

Making a difference


Annual Report 2017