This Tuesday Escondida reported that gave up their request to extend their rights to use fresh water in the Salar de Atacama, a resource that will be replaced by the production from its desalination plants.

The largest copper mine in the world, which is controlled by Australia’s BHP, maintained an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to continue extracting 428 liters per second of an aquifer located in that salt flat, between 2020 and 2030. However, local communities opposed these plans given the lack of information on the impact that extraction would have on wages.

As reported by Pulso, the company said through a statement that “BHP advances in 10 years its commitment not to extract high Andean waters for Escondida, originally scheduled for 2030”. The company added that the decision also considered “conversations held with the Peine community, backed by the Consejo de Pueblos Atacameños.”

In 2018, the government banned granting new water rights in the Salar due to overexploitation. Escondida and Zaldívar, from Antofagasta and Barrick, sought to extend the use of water in the region. Zaldívar argues that in their case it is not feasible to invest in a desalination plant. In addition, the world’s largest lithium producers, the local SQM and Albemarle, operate in the Salar.