Tag Archives: Daniel Malchuk

BHP and Vale invest in COVID-19 testing and mitigation measures in Chile, Brazil

BHP and Vale have invested in measures to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Chile and Brazil, respectively.

While BHP has already announced COVID-19-related plans to hire more people and provide preventative measures in Australia, on top of freeing up money for to support local suppliers, it has now tabled its $8 million strategy in Chile aimed at strengthening the country’s public health network in the face of the pandemic.

It has joined with the Medical Faculty of Universidad Católica with the immediate objective of raising the testing capacity and strengthening the Familiar Health Centers of the South East Area of the Metropolitan Region, as well as Antofagasta and Tarapacá – where its majority-owned Escondida and Cerro Colorado copper operations, respectively, reside.

This plan includes:

  • An Early Detection Program through rapid testing, in support of the Primary Attention Centers (this includes 150,000 rapid tests for detecting the virus). This system includes 10 units for sampling, with mobile tents and permanent units, the company said;
  • Expansion of laboratory capacity, including the purchase of new analysis equipment to maximise the speed for processing tests. Results will be delivered to patients in 24 hours, BHP said;
  • Community surveillance for cases that test positive and their contacts, based at Primary Attention Centers and telemedicine; and
  • A 24/7 call centre for identifying potential cases.

Daniel Malchuk, President Operations at Minerals Americas, said: “This plan shows our commitment and our profound belief that we should work together to face the difficult times we are going through.”

In addition, BHP will implement a program to support communities and high-risk vulnerable groups in the regions where the company operates, Antofagasta and Tarapacá. This will allow the delivery of supplies, sanitisation of public areas, areas for the isolation of potential cases and support to the state network to increase medical rounds, supplies and treatment for high-risk people, it said.

BHP previously changed the terms of payment for all providers and collaborators in Chile, with large taxpayers cut to 30 days, small and medium enterprises reduced to 14 days and local companies from the Antofagasta and Tarapacá Regions having their terms cut to seven days.

Vale, meanwhile, said its China subsidiary had recently taken delivery of the first batch of 5 million rapid test kits to diagnose COVID-19.

The tests, which can provide results in just 15 minutes, were purchased from China and will be delivered to the Brazilian government, it said. Produced by the Chinese company Wondfo, the test is registered at the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa, Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária) and was donated by Vale to help the Brazil Government fight the spread of the virus in the country.

Some 500,000 units are currently in transit (by plane) from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, in the Chinese province of Guangdong, on their way to the International Airport of Guarulhos (São Paulo). They are expected to arrive in Brazil this evening.

Vale’s CEO, Eduardo Bartolomeo, said: “Vale offers this support to the Brazilian society at this time when the country is united for the health and safety of people. We are using our logistics network from Asia to bring inputs that can make a difference in people’s lives in Brazil.”

The remaining 4.5 million units will be delivered by the supplier in April, Vale said.

The amount of test kits purchased by Vale represents half of the needs estimated by the Brazilian Ministry of Health as of March 22, it explained.

BHP builds its ‘green’ copper credentials at Escondida, Spence

BHP says new renewable energy contracts it has recently signed in Chile will reduce energy prices for its Escondida and Spence copper mines by around 20% and help displace up to 3 Mt/y of CO2 emissions from these operations.

These agreements not only benefit BHP’s business but generate strong environmental and social value, according to Daniel Malchuk, President Operations for BHP’s Minerals Americas business.

BHP operates and own 57.5% of the Escondida mine, a leading producer of copper concentrate and cathodes from a copper porphyry deposit, in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Spence, which is 100% owned by BHP, is also in northern Chile.

He said: “Population growth and higher living standards combined with greater electrification are expected to push up demand for copper. This means that copper in products such as electric cars and renewable energy infrastructure, which are vital to the world’s sustainable growth, must be produced to the highest environmental aspirations.”

The new energy contracts, along with BHP’s investment in desalinated water in Chile, demonstrate social value in action and help drive the wider agenda for sustainable green copper, according to Malchuk.

Social value is one strategic pillar the company embeds in all its decision-making and informs the way in which it provides resources and generates long-term, sustainable value. This was the subject of BHP Chief External Affairs Officer, Geoff Healy’s speech in London earlier this month.

Malchuk said the company has negotiated four new power contracts that will meet its energy requirements at Escondida and Spence from 100% renewable energy sources by the mid-2020s.

“When fully operational, these renewable supply arrangements will eliminate virtually all of Escondida and Spence Scope 2 emissions (emissions from purchased energy), effectively displacing up to 3 Mt of CO2 annually compared to the fossil fuel contracts they replace,” he said. “This is the equivalent to annual emissions from about 700,000 combustion engine cars and accounts for around 70% of BHP’s Minerals Americas total greenhouse gas emissions.”

These actions also support Chile’s wider “Energia 2025” power policy target for 20% of all Chilean energy to come from renewable sources by 2025.

Following a competitive tender process, Escondida and Spence agreed separate 15-year contracts for 3 TWh/y and 10-year contracts for 3 TWh/year with ENEL Generación Chile and Colbún respectively. The ENEL contracts will begin in August 2021 and the Colbún contracts in January 2022, BHP said, with power supplied from solar, wind and hydro sources.

Malchuk said: “These contracts are practical examples of our commitment to social value that are linked to a sound business case. We estimate the agreements will reduce energy prices at our Escondida and Spence copper mine operations by around 20%, provide our operations flexibility and security of supply, and strengthen our ability to deliver sustainable copper across our supply chain.”

On top of this, the company has confirmed that its Spence operations will begin using desalinated water as the main source of supply from mid-2020 upon completion of a 1,000 l/s capacity desalination plant. This was part of a plan the company outlined in 2017 to grow the Spence operation.

This is on top of the more than $4 billion, 2,500-l/s desalination plant the company built at Escondida.

Malchuk said: “Water is a precious commodity that is critical to our operations in Chile and to the communities where we operate in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions in the world. We recognise our operations have an impact on the environment given the immense amount of water they consume.”

He added: “Our Water Stewardship position statement, launched last month, outlines our vision for a water secure world by 2030. It sets out our actions to improve water management within our operations and contribute to more effective water governance beyond the mine gate.

“We strongly support the UN Sustainable Development Goals on access to clean and affordable water. That’s why we will set public targets and engage industry, communities and governments to improve governance, transparency and collaboration in water management.”