BHP switches all Chilean copper operations to renewable energy

BHP has announced that it will supply all of its copper mines in Chile with renewable energy from 2021 after signing four new contracts with Chilean utility companies.

The renewable energy deals will cut energy costs by an estimated 20% at the mining giant’s Escondida and Spence projects – the former being the world’s largest copper mine.

Fifteen-year contracts have been agreed with Enel Generacion Chile for 3TWh per year and 10-year contracts, again for 3TWh, have been agreed with another Chilean utility called Colbun.

BHP said it was making a provision of around US$780 million for the cancellation of its existing coal contracts, which will be reflected in the firm’s December half-year results.

The world’s largest mining company by market value said the deals would displace 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year from 2022, compared to the existing fossil fuel-based contracts.

Daniel Malchuk, president of BHP Minerals Americas, said of the deals: “It’s good for the environment, it’s good for emissions, but it’s also great for business.”

Chile has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy adoption due to the falling costs of solar and wind in the South American country. A recent GlobalData report found that non-hydro renewable energy would make up at least 50% of Chile’s power generation by 2030.