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

Compania Minera Sierra Gorda SCM (KGHM 55%; South32 45%) has announced that it has started to operate from this month with 100% renewable energy. This achievement is part of the company’s sustainability objectives and represents the removal of the emission of around 1 Mt of CO2 per year.

The presentation of this important news took place at the mining site in the Antofagasta Region, in the presence of local authorities, representatives from the mining sector, mine workers and residents of the Sierra Gorda commune. Since the start of the Sierra Gorda SCM project, one of its main objectives has been to minimise any potential impact on communities and the environment. For example, the company does not use any continental water in the operation or in the camp. The use of 100% renewable electrical energy in the operation is the next step on its future mining roadmap, with a focus on caring for the environment and coexistence with the community.

For Tomasz Piwowarczyk, interim General Manager of Sierra Gorda SCM, this is one of the main milestones of the company in its short but valuable history. “In Sierra Gorda SCM we were born doing sustainable and low-grade mining. Today we fulfill one of our great purposes, managing our operations with 100% renewable electrical energy. Our company shows that it is possible to do green and efficient mining with a low grade like ours and develop production in a sustainable way. We are happy to share this great news that comes three years after starting our parceled supply of green energy, and that today already has us with 100% energy from renewable sources. Thanks to this, the copper and molybdenum that we produce is greener, since it contains a smaller carbon footprint.”

Dafne Pino Riffo, Seremi de Energía de la Región de Antofagasta, affirmed that “the achievement achieved by Minera Sierra Gorda SCM, thanks to the virtuous relationship with AES Andes, could not occur in any other region than this one; the mining and energy capital of the country, reflecting what we are precisely looking for as a government, to mobilise the different actors and sectors to take advantage of the wealth of our territory in a fair way and achieve results like the ones we see materialising today: the operation of a mining company supplied 100 % with clean energy.”

The milestone has been achieved thanks to a long-term power purchase agreement with AES Andes, a company recognised as one of the main electric power generators in Chile. Through this agreement it is established that the annual consumption of approximately 1,310 GWh of the operation is supplied from the generator’s renewable portfolio, which includes solar, wind, hydroelectric and battery energy. An agreement is currently in place until December 2039.

For his part, Emiliano Chaparro, Commercial Vice President of AES Andes, assured: “it fills us with joy to accompany a client like Sierra Gorda SCM in meeting its sustainability goals, which is perfectly articulated with our purpose as a company, which is accelerate the future of energy, together and thus contribute to responding to the main challenge that society faces today: facing the effects of climate change to leave a better world for future generations.”

These energies are endorsed by the National Registry of Renewable Energies (RENOVA), which in December 2022 accredited that 36.78% of the electrical energy that Sierra Gorda SCM consumed during 2021 corresponded to renewable energy. The energy supplied will come from AES Andes’ portfolio of renewable assets, which is made up of wind, solar, hydroelectric energy and storage systems. An important advance that leads Sierra Gorda SCM to achieve the highest standards in terms of sustainable mining.