Court rules against BHP in Cerro Colorado water case

BHP faces a water setback at its Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of indigenous communities’ in a complaint related to water use.
Court rules against BHP in Cerro Colorado water case Court rules against BHP in Cerro Colorado water case Court rules against BHP in Cerro Colorado water case Court rules against BHP in Cerro Colorado water case Court rules against BHP in Cerro Colorado water case

BHP's Cerro Colorado mine in Chile

The court upheld a complaint filed by the San Isidro de Quipisca Indigenous Agricultural Association against an environmental approval granted in November 2016 and ruled that a routine evaluation of the mine's environmental project, including by a committee of ministers, failed to take into account warnings by locals that its operations were overdrawing water and impacting local wetlands, reported Reuters.

The indigenous group said water pumping to feed Cerro Colorado's operations had almost entirely dried out high-altitude wetlands around its operations.

"Cerro Colorado's environmental operating permit is annulled and, that permit being annulled, the company must stop," said Lorenzo Soto, a lawyer for the indigenous group.

BHP said the mine could continue to operate while it worked to comply with the measures required by the Environmental Court as the Supreme Court did not order it to cease operations.

Cerro Colorado produced 71,700 tonnes of copper cathodes in 2019 and 64,000t in the first 11 months of 2020.