Escondida copper production in FY2019 decreased by 6 per cent to 1,135 kilotonnes (kt), as a consequence of an expected 12 per cent decline in copper grades, partially offset by a record level of ore milled reflecting a full year of operation with three concentrators.
The Escondida Water Supply Expansion (EWSE) project progressed according to schedule during FY2019 and is expected to deliver its first water in the first half of FY2020. The EWSE project comprises the expansion of the Escondida Water Supply conveyance system by 1,300 litres per second and the desalination water production by 800 litres per second. This project is key to enabling Escondida achieve its production plans while also reducing its reliance on groundwater sources. The proportion of desalinated water in use at Escondida at the end of FY2019 was 40 per cent.
On 17 August 2018, Escondida successfully completed negotiations with Union N°1 and signed a new collective agreement, effective for 36 months from 1 August 2018. On 17 April 2019, Escondida reached an agreement with an intercompany union that includes 105 workers that were formerly part of Union N°1.