Freeport’s El Abra and Bridgestone begin recycling mining tyres at Kal Tire facility in La Negra

In order to comply with the Extended Producer Responsibility (REP) law, Minera El Abra, a Chilean copper mine and subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan, along with the tyre manufacturer Bridgestone, are starting the recycling process for tyres purchased by the mine over the past year, which will result in three types of by-products: steel, oil and carbon black that are used in various production processes.

The conversion procedure will be carried out at the state of the art Kal Tire recycling plant in La Negra, Antofagasta, which is the most modern in the world, and the one with the greatest capacity in Chile to carry out the pyrolysis process. This method degrades the rubber through a thermal process, separating the components in different stages.

This year Bridgestone will recycle 25 El Abra mining tyres, which correspond to 25% of what was supplied in 2022, thus meeting the goal imposed by the REP Law in its first year of validity. The quota of tyres to be recycled will increase each year as stipulated by the law.

El Abra says it is the first mining company in Chile to use the pyrolysis method to process tyres under the REP law which required recycling to begin from 2023. “This is a great opportunity to continue improving our social and environmental responsibility practices, also to collaborate with recycling companies and with the community, since apart from creating awareness, it could become a business model with by-products, giving them a new life,” said the President of Minera El Abra, Boris Medina.

The joint work will make it possible to achieve the recycling of 75% of scrapped tyres in the fifth year of implementation and 100% in 2031, this being an unprecedented and effective process to solve the accumulation of waste derived from mining operations.

“We are proud to take the first of several steps that are aimed at caring for the environment, with the start of the tire recycling law, long awaited by the mining industry. We are committed to people and everything that contributes to improving the quality of life,” said Gonzalo Figueroa, Commercial Director of Bridgestone Mining Solutions.

For his part, Carlos Zuniga, General Manager of Kal Tire Chile, said that the company thanks Minera El Abra and Bridgestone, “who have entrusted us with the responsibility of valuing the first NFU under the REP law. This milestone reinforces the already consolidated relationship of the last six years during which time Kal Tire has provided a comprehensive tyre service to Minera El Abra, together with supporting our work in developing an innovative, sustainable and safe solution that generates products with a lower carbon footprint, which will enter new production processes as raw materials.”

The pyrolysis process is aligned with the circular economy since in the future the by-products obtained may be used in the manufacture of tyres or other related products.