BHP Stock – BHP : to spend up to $93 mln under Chilean environmental court agreement
SANTIAGO, June 2 (Reuters) – Mining group BHP will
spend up to $93 million in environmental repairs and reparations
after a Chilean court brokered an agreement in a lawsuit from
the state over water use and related damage to a sensitive salt
flat in the north of the country.
The lawsuit related to BHP’s Escondida copper mine, the
world’s biggest, and the agreement involves the payment of
compensation for environmental damage due to overdrawing water
from the Punta Negra salt flat.
The lawsuit had been brought last year by the Chilean state
which claimed Escondida had between 1990 and 2017 caused a
severe decline in levels of the salt flats aquifer, partially
or totally caused the loss of wetlands and vegetation and
compromised the survival of its fauna.
The First Environmental Court, based in the northern Chilean
city of Antofagasta, said on Wednesday it had rubber-stamped
what it described as an “unprecedented” agreement that included
a total of 19 measures to be taken by the miner.
These measures including technical studies of the salt flat
and the drawing up of a management plan to repair damage that
will require fresh approval from the environment ministry.
The plan should include measures to restore and maintain the
fragile ecosystems of the salt flat, 170 kilometers southeast of
Antofagasta, the court said, and protection of microorganisms
capable of living in the dry, hot conditions.
The court said the eventual price tag for BHP of the
measures would amount to up to $93 million. BHP said a joint
monitoring group would be put together to oversee the
implementation of the plan, made up of state, company and
Water is a hot topic in drought-hit Chile, with both copper
and lithium miners having faced legal challenges from local
communities over their thirsty operations.
The Escondida mine now draws 100% of its water from the sea
and passes it through a desalination plant.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero and Aislinn Laing
Editing by David Holmes)