Codelco, the world’s largest copper mining company, has announced that they will be renewing their contract for the Pampa Elvira Solar project with Canada’s renewable energy company, Innergex. This clean energy contract outlines the procedures for the Gabriela Mistral division in Chile’s northern desert region. This partnership grew into fruition because Codelco is adjusting to a more sustainable copper production strategy, as to address environmental concerns. The contract is to be effective from April 1st, 2023 to December 31st, 2032. 

According to the published source, Codelco has made significant strides in procuring clean energy to their processes for its rapid attempts to reduce their carbon footprint. Innergex owns 55% of the Pampa Elvira Solar project, and reinforces the green agenda by using the process of electrowinning for copper extraction. Electrowinning is a scientific process that recovers copper dissolves through generated heat from solar thermal collectors, or panels. This solar system has already allowed for the replacement of 60% of fossil fuels used, and it can also replace diesel combustion in water boilers.

“This clean energy project allows us to avoid the emission of 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, at the same time that we achieve savings of more than $2 million per year,” stated Codelco’s Vice President of Provisions, Mauricio Acuna. 

In previous years Codelco has received large portions of backlash in and around their state of Chile. As of 2014, they have been trying to settle within the Intag Valley, Ecuador to construct and produce copper mines. This production would be catastrophic to the land, water ways, and civilian communities. Many local organizations and leaders have banned together to combat this external threat. Over the years, Codelco has been accused of using violent and irrational tactics towards protestors and villagers. They have secured a location with the Junin Community Reserve, but as of right now, the main project has been halted due to potential legal and local enforcement challenges.  

So, the main questions stand – will their clean energy sources outweigh the consequences from their damaging mining sites? And will they use this new clean extracting system in ‘in progress’ projects, like the Junin Community Reserve? This may be seen as a good start to a renewable future for Codelco, but their efforts have to be fully circulatory in order to be labeled “green.”