The agreement considers an environmental management plan, as well as a series of compensation and repair measures. A participatory governance is considered for its implementation, made up of representatives of public and private organizations as well as communities, who will work together for the sustainability of Salar de Punta Negra.
With a conciliation agreement to benefit the environmental sustainability of the Salar de Punta Negra, the dialogue process concluded between representatives of the State Defense Council, the Peine Atacamanian Indigenous Community, The Council of Atacamanian Peoples and Escondida | BHP, where the First Environmental Court acted as a friendly arbitrator.
“We value and appreciate the effort made by all parties to reach this agreement. This is the result of a joint effort in which the desire for dialogue and a marked commitment to the sustainability of the Salar de Punta Negra prevailed”, expressed Cristóbal Marshall, VP Corporate Affairs of Escondida | BHP.
The executive added that: “this is great news for everyone, but the work continues. Now comes the implementation of an environmental plan to support the sustainability of the Salar de Punta Negra where we will work jointly and in coordination with the Peine community, the Council of Atacamanian Peoples and the environmental authorities”.
The measures that will be part of the plan were defined based on the conciliation terms presented by the First Environmental Court, which were complemented with additional actions, to be subsequently agreed upon by all the parties involved.
The agreement contemplates the realization of a series of territorial diagnoses and technical studies that will contribute to generate an Environmental Management Plan which will guide the implementation of various compensation and repair actions with a long-term view.
A key element of the agreement is that decision-making and execution of the plan will be led by a social-environmental governance made up of State representatives, the Peine Atacamanian Community, the Council of Atacamanian Peoples and Escondida | BHP. In addition, participatory decision-making mechanisms and instances of dissemination, environmental education and transparency were established.
Cristóbal Marshall highlighted that “the agreement incorporated the environmental measures that Escondida | BHP has implemented in Salar de Punta Negra since 1996, to allow the recovery and conservation of the area’s flora and fauna”. He also added that “Escondida undertook a commitment to long-term sustainability, ceasing to use high Andean water, and replacing it permanently with desalinated water in 2019. This agreement is another milestone in the advancement of that commitment to sustainability, where the cessation of pumping is now followed by a new full and participatory stage of environmental management ".
Currently, Escondida supplies itself 100% with desalinated water for operational purposes.