KGHM and South32's Sierra Gorda copper mine in Chile operating on 100% renewable energy

KGHM and South32’s Chilean Mine Goes Green with 100% Renewables

Minera Sierra Gorda SCM (KGHM 55%; South32 45%) announced that it is now operating on 100% renewable energy. This move is part of the company’s commitment to sustainability and will reduce the emissions of around 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year. The announcement was made at the mining site in Antofagasta Region in the presence of local officials, industry representatives, mine workers, and residents of the Sierra Gorda community.

From the start of the Sierra Gorda SCM project, the company’s goal has been to minimize its impact on communities and the environment. This includes not using any fresh water in its operations or camps. The shift to 100% renewable energy is the next step towards more sustainable mining practices.

Tomasz Piwowarczyk, interim General Manager of Sierra Gorda SCM, views this as a major milestone for the company. “At Sierra Gorda SCM, we started with sustainable and low-grade mining, and now we are operating on 100% renewable energy. We show that it’s possible to do green and efficient mining with a low-grade ore and develop production in a sustainable way,” he said.

Dafne Pino Riffo, Regional Energy Minister of Antofagasta, praised the company’s efforts, stating, “This achievement by Minera Sierra Gorda SCM, thanks to its partnership with AES Andes, could only happen in Antofagasta, the mining and energy capital of Chile. This is what the government is looking for, to mobilize different actors and sectors to make use of the region’s wealth in a fair way.”

The milestone was made possible by a long-term power purchase agreement with AES Andes, a leading electric power generator in Chile. Under the agreement, the operation’s annual consumption of approximately 1,310 GWh will be supplied from AES Andes’ renewable portfolio, which includes solar, wind, hydroelectric, and battery energy. The agreement runs until 2039.

Emiliano Chaparro, Commercial Vice President of AES Andes, said, “We are thrilled to support a client like Sierra Gorda SCM in achieving its sustainability goals. This aligns perfectly with our purpose as a company to accelerate the future of energy and contribute to addressing the challenge of climate change.”

The renewable energy supplied is certified by the National Registry of Renewable Energies (RENOVA), which recognized that 36.78% of Sierra Gorda SCM’s energy consumption in 2021 came from renewable sources. The energy will come from AES Andes’ portfolio of renewable assets, which includes wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy, and storage systems. This important step puts Sierra Gorda SCM at the forefront of sustainable mining practices.