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White Quebrada White and Quebrada Phase 2 in Tarapaca, Chile

Promoting green mining and copper as a strategic metal in the energy transition, TECK wants to expand the exploitation in the pit of the mine. Lack of consultations, water grabbing, pollution and diseases is what it leaves in the territory

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The White Quebrada Mine is located in northern Chile, in the Tarapacá region, 240 km from the city of Iquique, at 4,400m high. He started his operations in 1994 and deals with an open pit mining, which uses a leaching process to produce copper cathodes through processing at a SX-EW plant. Canadian company Teck Resources Limited acquired the mine in 2007, after Teck Cominco acquired Air Resources.

According to the company, from 2006 to 2018, 75 million were exploited of tons of copper, plus 144 million tons for the tailings operation and of this there were 777 thousand tons of copper cathode (FS 6-1). The year 2018 the mine produced 25,500 tons of copper cathodes in 2018, while by 2019 there was expected a production between 20,000 to 23,000 tons [1] [2].


The conflict that has been triggered between the company and the communities of the sector, arose from the environmental damage caused by diseases In the population, drilling of bofedales (highland wetlands), destruction of ecological heritage and strong environmental pollution by the pollution of toxic powder, among others.

in 2004 White Quebrada Mining Company (The Teck Safner operating the mine) was fined for having used a route other than informed in the Environmental Impact Statement for its project "Transport of Sulfuric Acid Punta Patache - White Quebrada" [2] [ 3].

The year 2013, the company was recognized for provoking Oil spill in the commune of Pozo Almonte, a few kilometers from the community of Huatacondo, provoking serious damage caused to the ecosystem of the area, affecting the flora and fauna of the coast and the community. Although at first the Superintendency of the Environment initiated a sanctioning process against the mining company, it was suspended after the Compliance Program presented by the company [2] [4] [5].

In 2016 the "Aymara Aymara Aymara and Cultural Association of Yabricyita and Caya" presents an administrative resource against the project "Environmental Impact Study Update Blanca Minor Project", Al No Be considered within the process of consulting indigenous peoples. However, this resource was rejected by the Environmental Assessment Service [6].

On the other hand, the workers have denounced on multiple occasions anti-union practices by the Company and the need for improvements in working conditions. In 2012, a worker was injured by the explosion of a dynamite "shot" while driving a backhoe in the tasks, in addition to the same year the direction of work condemned White Broken Teck for these same anti-union practices. In 2017, 120 workers were dismissed in the midst of collective bargaining, the union accused anti-union practices by the company [2] [7] [8] [9].

The risks to health of work in height have been visible for years. The mane of the White Broken Mine is 4,400 MSNM, height considered highly hostile for the human being. Among the consequences of height work is hypoxia or hypoxemia that affects concentration, memory, coordination and can even cause brain organic damage, as well as problems such as arterial hypertension, pulmonary or cerebral edema [10].

Another impact generated by the White Quebrada Mine has been the hoarding of water. The mine depends on the private use of water of the Salar de Michincha (315.9 L / S) and the Alkancha Salar (120.3 L / S) [11]. In the Tarapacá region, the mining activity has 68% of the total flow (5261 L / S), of which 12.5% ​​(708.1 L / S) corresponds to the White Broken Mining Company, with a total of 708.1 L / S [12] This has caused "enormous pressure on water resources located in territories where Aymara communities, Quechuas and Atacameñas live" [13], also considering that the Andean basins of Northern Chile is the area facing the greatest water crisis because of the Scary, pollution and overexploitation of waters [14].

Blanca broken project phase 2

There is currently the project "White Quebrada Phase 2" which consists of an expansion of current activities with an increase in the depth and width of the Tajo, and an intensification of the extraction rate. The project includes 25 years of operation, with a production capacity of 140 thousand tons per day and an annual production estimated at 316 thousand tons. It aims to be one of the largest mining projects in Chile and positioned within 20 largest copper producers in the world. The project contemplates as part of its infrastructure a copper concentrator and molybdenum plant, a reservoir, the construction of a desalination plant and a pier port for the transfer of copper concentrate, which will be connected through concentruges and water pipes Desalination that will reach 165 kilometers long. This would be located in the coastal sector of Puerto Patache 240 km from the city of Iquique [2] [11] [15].

How to try Teck painting green The project?

teck is perhaps one of the mining companies that has most incorporated the speech of the energy transition in its communications and operations, emphasizing the need for Extract more copper to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Canadian company recently announced its support for climate neutrality by 2050, noting that the "transition to a low carbon economy will be significantly increasing the production of copper through the construction of our White Quebrada Phase 2 project in Chile" [16] .

Likewise, the company emphasizes its commitment to the fight against climate change and highlights the fact that it is a signatory for the commitment of action of Paris (Paris PLEDGE FOR ACTION, IN ENGLISH): "In Teck we recognize the role we play in the adoption of decisive measures on climate change. We are signatories for the commitment of action of Paris and we are working to reduce emissions in our operations, advocate for effective climate policies and responsibly to produce metals, minerals and energy that are essential to build the technologies and infrastructure necessary for the transition to A low level of energy. Copper growth of our QB2 project will help, over time, to balance our portfolio to become a majority producer of green metals. At the beginning of 2020, we established a strategic priority to be a neutral carbon operator for 2050, and we are working to achieve important climate goals to support this goal "[17].

This type of speeches opens questions about what TECK enacts is fulfilled within its operations and that it is a 'green' washing strategy whose purpose would simply be marketing and attract ethical investments concerned about the climate crisis. Limited, Subsidiary of Teck Resources, was fined with 60 million dollars by contaminating with Selenium and Calcita the water sources of the Elk Valley in the province of British Columbia- home of the company in Canada [18].

Some tracks about the economic interests behind Teck's commitment to climate change:

in Miner-corporate spaces Teck Resources reinforces the idea that the company is RA in a perfect position to capitalize on copper demand: "The transition to a low carbon economy is an opportunity for our business, since the metals, minerals and energy that we produce are essential to develop the technologies and infrastructure necessary to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Whether they are solar panels, wind turbines or electric cars, all require metals, minerals and energy, and much. In a world with low carbon emissions, metals are the fuel of the future [19].

Parallel, the pandemic of the Covid-19 has made many investors seek Invest in "Sustainable" projects. Like other mining companies in the world, TECK has realized the financial opportunity that this represents and has turned to incorporate such a mechanism into its operations to present a friendly face with the environment and governance and attract greater investment At your activities.

Many governments and mining companies have declared that the pandemic will serve to accelerate the energy transition of fossil fuels to renewable energies and thus fight against climate change. In this way, the need for the even more intensive exploitation of critical metals and minerals has been framed under the flag of two speeches: on the one hand, the copper is anti-bacterial and, therefore, essential not only for the manufacture of cars Electric, but also for the manufacture of surfaces that reduce the contagion of Covid-19 and, on the other, the economic recovery.

in relation to the pandemic, This has served as a great display of green washing for teck. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the firm has worked in a media campaign in Canada promoting its "secret weapon to kill germs and diseases: copper" [20]. In this way, the company has covered bus stops in several Canadian cities with the message "Copper kills the virus" and has been associated with public transport companies from Vancouver and Toronto to test anti-microbial copper surfaces in buses [21], among others.

In this sense, the Government of Canada, who has been one of the promoters of the copper mining industry, through its Embassy in Chile has stated that "there are a number of shared priorities between both countries such as the investment of mining companies in innovations in health using copper" [22].

Chile's copper and lithium can "help solve global warming"

using a language similar to that of the company, the Chilean government also framed to copper as a A necessary metal for the energy transition, highlighting electromavility as a financial opportunity. During the world's largest mining convention, the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) (Association of Prospectors and Developers of Canada, in Spanish) carried out every year in Toronto, Canada, Minus Minister and Mining of Chile presented in 2021 to Chile with the following messages: "We are and we will be a mining country," "We are the first copper producer worldwide," "Electromobility in Chile is our culture" and "in Chile, we work for sustainable mining" .

Likewise, the Senate has performed a series of webinars titled "Green Mining for the 21st century" in Chile where the Senator President of the "Commission Challenges of the Future" He has stated that Chilean copper can help humanity and solve the climate crisis: "Chile, having copper and lithium, can try to help solve one of the most dramatic problems of humanity that are global warming." He added that "I would transform copper, or the sense of copper not only as a good business for Chile, or for some in Chile, it would transform it into a gigantic opportunity to help the traffic you have to do the planet to have renewable energy, Because millions of devices will need copper ... Chile could give you energy for all of humanity "[22].

However, 2019 Environmental Assessment Service (SEA ) Resolved initiating the administrative invalidation procedure for the environmental qualification resolution (RCA) of the "White Quebrada Mining Project Phase 2", presented by communities and organizations of the indigenous development area "Jiwasa Oraso" Ecozona Matilla, in the Tarapacá region. These presented five claim resources against the RCA, as an act of illegality by the non-fulfillment of ILO Convention 169, since the process of indigenous prior consultation has not been carried out within its area of ​​influence, even if not There were sufficient arguments to exclude them from this consultation. In this resource, the Katilla communities argued that they were not considered as part of the localities that would be affected, since the operation would have impacts at an economic, social and cultural level, affecting their traditional forms of life. To this are added the potential environmental-cultural impacts that the construction and operation of the project can produce the communities, territories and routes of landing of flame and alpacas grazing. The habitat of these animals would be within the radius where the project will operate. In addition, in the same resource it is stated that the project will affect the Salares of Michincha and Alkancha.

Claims presented by Project "Adaptation and Optimization Area Mina Project QB2" were carried out by the following organizations: Association of Matilla and Atiña Uta, the Aymara Perla Association of the Desert, the Association Indigenous Silla Juay and the Association Indigenous Suma Yapu. All of them point out that the environmental rating resolution (RCA) should not have been approved. Due to the lack of lifting of a baseline that noticed the atmospheric contaminants that the project would produce.

Although the project has been approved by the RCA, consequently To the Emergency of the Covid-19, the construction of the project is suspended since 2020, so it is expected that the first copper production starts in 2022.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:White Quebrada White and Quebrada Phase 2 in Tarapaca, Chile
State or province:Tarapacá.
Location of conflict:Comuna de Pozo Almonte, Hutacond0, Quechua community of Ollajüe, Tamentica, Quebrada Casillas (Choja Alto), Chiclla and Copaquiri. Caramucho populations, Chanavayita and hemp are close to port infrastructures.
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

White Quebrada Phase 1:

See more
Project area:Affected area in hectares or km. Squares (specify) 800 ha [29 of the document]
Level of Investment for the conflictive project4,739,000,000 (until 1 January 2019)
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:Teck Resources Limited (Teck) from Canada
Compañía Minera Quebrada Blanca S.A (QBSA) from Chile - Subsidiaria de Teck
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. y Sumitomo Corporation from Japan - Adquirieron el 30% de las acciones de la empresa QBSA para proyecto QBF2
Empresa Nacional de Minería (ENAMI) from Chile - Tiene un 10% de participación no financiera en QBSA para proyecto QBF2
Relevant government actors:Superintendence, General Directorate of Water, Agricultural and Livestock Service, National Service of Geology and Mining, Environmental Assessment Service.
International and Finance InstitutionsExport Development Canada (EDC) from Canada - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) (KEXIM) from Republic of Korea - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
German Government for the Untied Loan Guarantee Program (UFK) from Germany - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
KFW IPEX-Bank GMBH from Germany - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
Bank of Montreal (BMO) from Canada - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) from Japan - Prestamo de 560 millones de USD para Sumitomo Metal Mining y 180 millones de USD para Sumitomo Corporation [24]
BNP Paribas (BNP) from France - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
ING Bank NV from Netherlands - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
Mizuho Bank (Mizuho) from Japan - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG Bank) from Japan - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. (SMBC) from Japan - Parte de las entidades financieras que aportaron un total de 2.5 mil millones de dólares para QBF2 [2]
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Network for the Defense of the Environment Arica-Parinacota
- Sustainable Attacking Organization
- Mother-Tarapacá Mother Defense Committee
- Indigenous Association of Matilla and Atiña Uta
- Aymara Pearl Association of the Desert
- Association Indigenous Youth Youth
- Indigenous Association Suma Yapu
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Aymara communities, Quechuas and Atacameñas
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills, Air pollution
Other Environmental impactsDisappearance of fauna in danger of extinction by intervention of its habitat.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The expansion of the project has been detained, due to lack of investors to finance the expansion of its phase 2 but water contamination is real. In October 2013 it is announced that the Canadian Minera Teck, who in Chile operates the White Broken Minas and Carmen de Andacollo, has decided to lower the rhythm of their projects in the country.
The company maintains one of the most ambitious investment portfolios in mining matters, for almost US $ 9,500 million to develop two projects: the enlargement of White Quebrada and Relincho, in the Tarapacá and Atacama regions, respectively.
However, the change in market conditions and obstacles detected in the development process of both initiatives have forced reassessing the initial plan.
There is irreversible damage in more than 37 km of the White Quebrada, which gives the name to the aforementioned company and that is disguised with the promise of a mitigation program.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Normativa ambiental Chile. Sistema de Evaluación Ambiental 2020
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[12] Romero-Toledo, H. (2019). “Extractivismo en Chile: la producción del territorio minero y las luchas del pueblo aimara en el Norte Grande”. Colombia Internacional (98): 3-30.

[13] Romero-Toledo, H. (2018). “Etnicidades, etno-territorios y conflictos mineros: aportes para una geografía humana de los aymaras en Chile”. Revista de Geografía Norte Grande, (71): 211-234
[click to view]

[14] Banco Mundial (2011) citado por Díaz, K., 2019. En: Crisis del Agua en el Norte de Chile. Derecho y Cultura en Los Andes. Sobre los Efectos Irracionales del Derecho
[click to view]

[1] Sitio web de Teck Resources Limited; Proyecto Quebrada Blanca
[click to view]

[click to view]

[3] Sistema de Evaluación de Impacto Ambienta; Ficha del Proyecto: “Transporte de Acido Sulfúrico Ruta Punta Patache - Quebrada Blanca”. Procesos de sanción; 22 de noviembre del 2004
[click to view]

[4] Comité de Defensa de la Madre Tierra, Tarapacá / OLCA; Dos graves derrames de petróleo… ¿y cuántos más deberemos sufrir?; 17 de febrero, 2013
[click to view]

[5] Calderón, María José; “Suspenden sanción contra minera Teck Quebrada Blanca por derrame de petróleo”; 3 de abril, 2013
[click to view]

[6] Sistema de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental; Ficha del Proyecto: “Estudio de Impacto Ambiental Actualización Proyecto Minero Quebrada Blanca”. Recursos administrativos. Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental. Gobierno de Chile
[click to view]

[7] Minería Chilena (23 de febrero, 2012). “Investigan explosion de tiro de dinamita olvidado en minera”, Minería Chilena. Fuente: La estrella de Iquique
[click to view]

[8] La Izquierda Diario (17 de febrero, 2017). “120 despidos realizados en Minera Quebrada Blanca de Tarapacá”. La Izquierda Diario
[click to view]

[9] Federación Minera (28 de noviembre, 2017). “Sindicato Quebrada Blanca vota la huelga en medio de malas prácticas laborales por parte de la empresa”. Federación Minera de Chile
[click to view]

[10] 20 Federación Minera de Chile (2016) Altura y los trabajadores
[click to view]

[11] Teck Resources (2016). NI 43-101 Technical Report on Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 Feasibility Study 2016, Región de Tarapacá, Chile, p. 1-14
[click to view]

[15] Teck. From Seawater to Freshwater
[click to view]

[16] Teck Announces Goal of Carbon Neutrality by 2050

February 03, 2020
[click to view]

[17] Teck Sustainability report 2020
[click to view]

[18] March 26, 2021

Teck fined $60 million for water pollution in B.C.’s Elk Valley
[click to view]

[19] Teck. A Conversation With Chris Adachi, Manager, Sustainability & Climate Change
[click to view]

[20] Teck. Using Copper to Keep Employees Healthy at the Teck Vancouver Office
[click to view]

[21] Teck. Partnering to Test Germ-Killing Copper on Vancouver Public Transit
[click to view]

[22] Especiales TVS - Minería verde para el Siglo XXI

30 de Julio 2021
[click to view]

[23] Teck Resources (2020). Annual Information Form, p.34.
[click to view]

[24] Sitio web de Teck Resources Limited; Proyecto Quebrada Blanca Fase 2
[click to view]

[24] JBIC; Loan for Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 Project in Chile; 12 de junio del 2019
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update31/10/2021
Conflict ID:769
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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