SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Anglo American said on Wednesday that it reached an agreement to supply half of its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile with desalinated water from 2025.
The agreement with Aguas Pacifico, controlled by Patria Investments, will bring water from Chile's coast to the mine's water recirculation systems. The system will also supply municipalities in northern Santiago.
Central Chile, where Los Bronces is located, has been hit particularly hard by a persistent drought that has hit mining output.
In the first phase, Anglo American said it will use 500 liters per second of desalinated water to cover 45% of its operations. In the second phase, the company said it will use treated waste water in exchange for supplying desalinated water for human consumption.
"In a scenario of water scarcity like the one we are currently in, human consumption has priority," Anglo American's interim executive president in Chile, Patricio Hidalgo said in a press release, adding that the project will generate "social value" for the country.
In June, Anglo American said that it planned to stop using fresh water altogether by 2030 through desalination and water recirculation.
The miner is trying to convince a government committee, led by the environment minister, to extend its mining permit at the site after being rejected by the country's environmental permit evaluator earlier this year.
The $3.3 billion mining project has been criticized for its impact on water availability in the capital region.
Los Bronces is part of Anglo American Sur, owned by Anglo American (50.1%), the Codelco-Mitsui consortium (29.5%) and Mitsubishi (20.4%).
(Reporting by Natalia Ramos, Writing by Alexander Villegas; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)