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BHP look to renewable energy to power Chilean mines

It was recently announced that a new climate change initiative to desalinate groundwater and replace fossil fuels within two major copper mines in Chile.

BHP has announced its intention to push two of its copper mines, in Escondia and Spence, Chile, towards renewable energy sources. Four contracts were signed that will see the fossil-fuel-powered operations switch to renewable sources by the mid-2020’s, with no solid date set as yet.

The company announced the plans on 21 October that will see the world’s largest copper mine in Escondida transform itself as the pressure from global media to tackle climate change mounts. Shareholders have been leveraging this pressure against BHP and during last week more than one-in-five shareholders backed a call for the company to resign its membership to any organisations that did not fully support and comply with the Paris Agreement.

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The Paris Agreement has outlined the expectations for a range of industries regarding the attitudes and actions being taken towards the revitalisation of our ailing environment. With the backing of 55 UNFCCC organisations, accounting for 55% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, the agreement has called for signatories to drastically reduce their environmental impact. 2025 and 2030 have often been the dates cited by the 185 countries to have submitted measures to the committee. 

The president of BHP mineral, Daniel Malchuk said the new contracts would see the emissions generated by the pair of mining operations fall by 20% and the company expects this to alleviate 3m tonnes of carbon pollution by the end of the project.

 “These contracts are practical examples of our commitment to social value that are linked to a sound business case,” Malchuk said.

Carbon emissions are not the only front for climate change that BHP is taking a lead on. The company has also said it would look to reduce its impact on groundwater resources and intends to invest US$4bn in desalination facilities at Escondia. Desalination would see salts, minerals and pollutants being taken out of the water before it is put back into the environment or reused for commercial or private purposes.