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Sustainable mining? Chile wants to make it happen

InvestChile - March,7,2022

The country’s new 2050 National Mining Policy contains a series of proposals to harmonize mining operations with environmental concerns.

Minería (1)

The Mining Ministry presented the new 2050 National Mining Policy, which aims to achieve sustainable mining in the country by positioning Chile at the forefront of resource management and the environment. Among its goals, the policy seeks to eliminate critical tailings by 2030 and reduce continental water use to no more than 5% of the total water used by the industry by 2040.

The text emphasizes that projects focused on water resources, tailings, pollution control, and biodiversity will be crucial for developing a sustainable environment, along with measures to attain carbon neutrality and a circular economy. The policy’s key goals are outlined below:

Water resources

  • Reduce the percentage of continental water used by the mining industry, ensuring that it does not exceed 10% of total water used by 2025 and 5% by 2040, and promote other water sources that do not compete with human consumption.
  • Participate actively in developing an integrated water resources management (IWRM) plan in 2022 and begin implementation by 2025.
  • Promote the publication of guidelines that explain the legal and regulatory framework for seawater desalination plants and the permits required to develop them.
  • Provide and facilitate information on mining projects to determine their relationship with the glaciological environment and ensure the protection of glaciers.
  • Protect glaciers of all shapes and sizes, prohibiting any type of activity that involves their removal, transfer, or covering with debris or leveling material.


  • Ensure that there are no tailings that are critical for the population by 2030, nor any that have been abandoned post-closure by 2050.
  • Reduce the generation of conventional tailings, promoting other forms of disposal such as filtered, thickened, or plastered tailings, establishing a percentage for reduction in 2022 and reaching compliance by 2030.
  • Reach 100% compliance with the National Tailings Deposit Plan for more sustainable mining by 2030.

Pollution control

  • Establish PM10 and PM2.5 goals for the mining industry by 2025 and reach compliance by 2030.
  • Attain international standards in sustainability and environmental responsibility in foundries and refineries in the country by 2030.


  • Generate a positive net impact on biodiversity by 2050 in all large- and medium-scale mining projects developed since 2021.

Carbon neutrality

  • Reduce CO2-equivalent emissions by at least 50% in large-scale mining operations by 2030.
  • Generate plans for zero-emission fleets in large-scale mining operations by 2025 and begin implementation by 2030.
  • Ensure that 90% of electrical energy contracts in the mining sector come from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
  • Establish scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emission goals, reaching compliance by 2030, including ongoing monitoring and updates.
  • Ensure that 100% of companies have an energy efficiency management and audit system by 2050.

Circular economy

  • Promote the inclusion of non-mining waste, apart from the seven priority waste categories, in the Extended Producer Responsibility (Responsabilidad Extendida del Productor, REP) Law as a milestone for 2030, among other measures.

Source: Minería Chilena.

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Topics: Mining



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