The project "Production of Sales de Maricunga" consists of the extraction of lithium and potassium at 172 km northwest of the city of Copiapó, in the northern sector of the Salar de Maricunga. The company in charge is Simco Spa, belonging to the Errázuriz group of Chile .
In June 2018, the Environmental Impact Report (EIA) was presented to be Evaluated by the authorities and launching a citizen consultation. At the end of August, the public hearing was held, where different arguments were expressed that questioned the project and raised the environmental, social and cultural problems associated with it .
Between these, it appeals to the Salar Maricunga is a protected territory that is within the limits of the Tres Cruces National Park. The extractive entrepreneurship of lithium and potassium is located within these limits and its operations would be carried out near the Santa Rosa Laguna. This lagoon has floristic wealth (11 native species) and diversity in avifauna, as well as being a nesting site of high birds (flamingos and taguas, Andean seagull), presence of vicuñas (protected) and vegetation (Andean wetlands by outcrop of Water). This gives global importance to the ecosystem services that lend the Salar and La Laguna, so it is one of the 13 Ramsar sites declared in Chile . Thus, in the area there are 17 species of fauna with conservation problems and considered as a priority site 1 in the "Red Book" of priority sites for the conservation of biological diversity in Chile 
In addition, in the citizen consultation, the lack of technical quality of the environmental impact study was noticed. On the one hand, it was argued on the problems of representativeness of the samples to analyze the behavior of the fauna close to the mining tasks, particularly reptiles. On the other hand, the statistical information used was questioned to analyze the impact of activity in the basin and the water system of the area. The lack of studies on superficial runoff, water sources and their amount for construction was highlighted; and the problems of spatial representation of baselines at the basin level. Information on water quality was also requested from transportation to and from the project area .
The sectors linked to tourism expressed concern about involvement Landscape, as well as the negative impact of the entrepreneurship on patrimonial routes and hotel enterprise that receives high-power tourists purchasing .
The Indigenous community Colla Paiote claimed the Invailable of your community as users and ancestral inhabitants of this Salar, both in the consultation process (as established in Article 86 of the Regulation of the Environmental Impact Studies System) and in the Environmental Impact Report itself. In the public declaration aimed at the Environmental Assessment Service, the communities claim not to have previously informed of the existence of an environmental impact assessment and emphasize that it does not know the spiritual, cultural, economic and environmental value of the territory since the report does not Includes georeferenced information on the cultural and economic practices of these indigenous peoples, violating Article 5 of Convention 169, not respecting the integrity of the practices and values of these peoples .
The memories of environmental damage produced by mining projects that operated in the same area, are present in the concerns of those who oppose this project. In 2016, the Maricunga Auriferous Entrepreneurship, operated by the Kinross company and located in the Tres Cruces National Park, was sanctioned by drying 70 hectares of the Width Valley Wetland. Also the State Minera Codelco was denounced by the indigenous community of the sector by extracting water from a wetland located in the Atacama Cordillerana area .
For your part , different government entities have expressed concerns about the environmental assessment process. The management of the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), the Renewable Natural Resources Protection Division of the Agricultural Service and Livestock (SAG) and the Department of Water Resources Conservation and Protection (DGA) have highlighted that decontamination measures are not proposed In the area possibly affected by the spill of substance, nor are the hydraulic parameters of the aquifer that is planned to explode .
The tourism sector is also added to The detractors of the project who see with concern the landscape affectation in one of the main tourist attractions of Atacama .
Since the Division of Healthy Public Policies and Promotion of the Ministry of Health, they questioned the lack of mitigation procedures and measures, repair and compensation of the harmful effects associated with the transport, discharge and storage of ore and other hazardous substances involved in the execution of the project .
For its part, the Undersecretariat of the Environment presented observations, rectifications and extensions to the environmental impact study presented by the Company. In particular, the Undersecretaria found inconsistencies in the Plan of Mitigation, Repair and Compensation Measures requested to verify in the field the applicability of the proposed measures, and technically justify the parameters of the numerical model used. The company requested the extension of deadline for the delivery of observations and rectifications that would allow the completion of the environmental assessment procedure. In this request, SIMCO SPA argued that "we have welcomed this request, for which we are hiring the probe, which will be completed in January 2019, the month in which the pumping and reinjection tests will be carried out.C on which only During February 2019, the parameters will be counted to be admitted to the conceptual and numerical model. In our experience, 2 months are required to have a good calibration of the numerical model, c on which we stand at the end of March 2019 ".
While the project is paused, in February 2020 another lithium project in Maricunga by Minera Salar Blanco, obtained environmental approval through Seia. A year earlier, the National Minera Codelco and Salar Blanco had announced a non-binding agreement to explore a mixed company in Salar Maricunga, agreement that could be carried out in relation to this project .