Chilean politicians launch mining desalination bill

A cross-party group of eight deputies in the lower house of the Chilean national congress has submitted a bill to require mining companies using more than 150 L/s of water for extraction purposes to install seawater desalination equipment.

The motion, submitted on 10 December 2013, will now be considered by the Committee on Mining & Energy.

Desalination plants are already in place, under construction or planned for some major mining projects in the dry north of the country. BHP Billiton, for instance, last year approved US$ 1,972 million financing for a 216,000 m³/d seawater desalination plant to serve its Escondida copper mine.

The authors of the bill say that the problem with current initiatives, which result in highly efficient production processes, is that they are not regulated in Chile. The bill’s objective, therefore, is to provide legal regulations to make desalination compulsory for all mining companies.