In July of last year, the mining company began processing the project to extend the useful life of Los Bronces, which considers an investment of some US $ 3 billion.
The Environmental Evaluation Service (SEA), on March 6, issued a resolution to extend the evaluation process of the environmental impact study (EIA), which was presented by the multinational last year, for the new mining project “Los Bronces Integrado”. The new term established by the regulatory body is now for July 31, 2020. This project already operates in the mountain range of the Metropolitan Region and has generated the concern and discomfort of neighbors and numerous environmental groups in the Lo Barnechea sector, since Anglo American’s environmental impact study has lacked support in terms of information and studies, which justify a reasonable environmental impact standard – they accuse.
According to statements by Cristóbal del Río, vice president of the Mapocho Basin Defense Corporation, and neighbor of the Arrayán sector in Lo Barnechea, “the project is fragmented, they give it an integrated name because they want to take advantage of the Environmental Qualification Resolution -favorable – from 2007, so they say they are the same project, but they are not the same“. Cristóbal Del Río compares the information provided by CODELCO, regarding the Andina 244 project. “That project said that 100 grams of dust in a square meter of glacier, increases its melting by 74 to 93%. Anglo American did not present anything similar, not a study of winds to know if the dust generated could reach the neighboring La Paloma glacier. On the other hand, there is no finished study on the issue of water either.” The decision of the SEA, the body representing the State, basically means that the British capital mining company -Anglo American- has more time to attach information to its Environmental Impact study.
Environmental Impact of Los Bronces Integrado
Anglo American’s new project would emit 3.5 million tons of greenhouse gases just for its cement production, equivalent to about 3.2% of Chile’s emissions, according to the most conservative estimates, and 9.7% according to the most pessimistic estimates.
Under Anglo American’s own environmental study, smokestacks will be built to vent emissions from 20-ton diesel vehicles that will work at height removing an average of 32,500 tons of copper per day, for a minimum of 14 years, on the north face of Cerro La Paloma, at about 3600 meters high, which provides drinking water to the 7 million inhabitants of the capital. And it would be tremendously affected by the particulate material that these emissions entail.
The miner has dug tunnels under the La Paloma glacier in order to extract copper and some 166 million tons of raw material under the Yerba Loca nature sanctuary. The volume of material it will extract is equivalent to 127 times the dimensions of the Costanera Center building, the largest building in South America. The company then plans to fill the mine with more than 114 million tons of concrete. The carbon footprint of the tons of cement required is equivalent to 3.2% of Chile’s total emissions, or the total carbon dioxide emissions of the 20 least polluting countries on the planet. Los Bronces Integrado (LBI) involves the installation of “three new exploitation phases: one phase is located to the east and another to the west of the current pit, and a third underground phase located to the south”. This last underground phase, as the company assured the SEA, is five kilometers from the pit that is currently exploited by Los Bronces, near the northern sector of the Fundo Yerba Loca Nature Sanctuary, where the La Paloma glacier is located, and If the project is extended from 2036 to 2065, these carbon dioxide emissions could amount to 9.7%. Black carbon combustion emissions have been linked to a decrease in the ability of ice to reflect solar radiation, thus increasing the rate of melting of glaciers, even above the current effects of climate change.