Mining has become one of the most important economic activities in Chile, but its high pollution levels have led to a change of vision regarding the industry, with the aim of continuing to develop in a sustainable manner.
In this sense, Latam Mobility: Chile 2022, a meeting that brought together representatives from the public and private sectors of the region to exchange ideas on sustainable mobility, was the setting for a debate on “Sustainable Mining: The Great Opportunity of the Conosur to Accelerate the Transition to Sustainable Mobility”.
Codelco’s Climate Change Director, María José Ruiz Esquide, pointed out that the company is committed to important goals such as reducing its carbon footprint by 70% by 2030, ensuring that its subway mining activities are 100% electrified, promoting the industrial development of hydrogen and working entirely with clean energy by 2026.
She assured that sustainable mining presents great opportunities such as climate change mitigation, inclusion of electrified technologies and the generation of new business models.
Regarding Codelco’s projects, he detailed the entry into operation of 150 electric buses, which would not only be used for operations in the mines, but also to cover interurban routes. “We have the country’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050,” he concluded.
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A Collaborative Industry
The Latam Mobility: Chile 2022 panel also featured Antofagasta Minerals Group’s Water and Energy Resources Manager, Andrés Alonso, who emphasized the need for all companies involved in the mining industry transition to work together to create a solid infrastructure and share fixed costs.
Among the programs and strategies developed by Antofagasta Minerals, Alonso highlighted a clear roadmap to combat climate change with specific departments on decarbonization and electromobility, with the aim of reducing emissions by 30% by 2025 and becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
In addition, the executive revealed that they are currently developing a series of tests with hydrogen trucks for the near future of operations.
Sustainability as a Standard
Hitachi Energy’s Regional Mobility Segment Manager, Henrique Gross, stressed that the company has as its number 1 rule before undertaking any project to assess whether it meets sustainability standards.
He pointed out that the brand’s operations are focused on three fundamental non-negotiable axes: ethics, people’s safety and the environment.
Gross believes that one of the most important challenges facing the mining industry is to have efficient investment. “The issue of resources is not simple, everything has to be optimized, which is why we propose to have products made for industrial use, lowering both initial costs and the cost of the entire operation by acquiring equipment that can last between 20 and 30 years”.
The Hitachi executive pointed out that one of the most significant opportunities is to also electrify the communities near the mines in order to massify and effectively use energy sources.
Clear Game Rules
The President of the Latin American Chamber of Lithium, Pablo Rutigliano, highlighted at Latam Mobility: Chile 2022 the need to have clear regulations, typification and prices established for lithium throughout the region.
He emphasized the pricing aspect because it is the starting point for the industry to have a significant impact on the macroeconomy of the countries.
“The price constitutes the initial spark for the development of any economy, it is necessary to articulate with governments the issue of lithium prices and negotiate for the future since the demand for electromobility continues to grow,” explained Rutigliano.
He pointed out that it is also important to carry out a process of digitalization of the economy, which will allow the development of quality processes, and connect the mining industry with electromobility to provide feedback and economic growth.
The panel participants agreed that joint work, regulations and incentives from governments will allow to boost the development of sustainable mining.