How we approach our community work

For years the Company has focused its community engagement work on four main areas of action when determining which initiates and programs it will develop.  In 2019, we decided to expand our scope of work to include sports and healthy living after noticing a particular interest and commitment by our neighboring communities in participating in a wide range of recreational and sports activities.

Our community action lines allow us to focus on relationship strategies and shared social value:

  • Education and Culture
  • Social and Productive Developmentt
  • Historical Heritage
  • Healthier Living

Contributing to the development of the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
To that end, the projects we develop in communities around our operations are implemented in accordance with the 17 SDGs promoted by the UN Global Compact.


SQM is a supporter of the ViLTI SeMANN Program. Managed by Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN) in Tocopilla and in its fourth year, this program is designed to boost primary education among boys and girls ages 4 to 9. In 2019, a total of 80 students from seven education establishments in Tocopilla participated in this program. Its objectives are to: close educational gaps, promote creative talent and contribute to equal opportunities in education (knowledge). Bringing science and robotics closer to the students through fun and engaging learning techniques. The most noteworthy achievements this year included sending three students from Tocopilla schools to the National Robotics Tournament held in Santiago, where they got to not only experience the trip itself but also spend time with boys and girls from other regions. Also, for the first time this year, the ViLTI SeMANN Program was held in María Elena, benefiting 20 boys and girls ages 5 to 7 years form the Arturo Pérez Canto School. Similar to their peers in Tocopilla, these children had the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills through games, singing and dancing, all related to the world of robotics.


Started back in 2008 as a means to provide comprehensive support to agricultural programs taught at the Likan Antay High School, this program provided benefits to four 11th graders and six 12th graders in 2019. The initiative aims to build the necessary skills and capacity in students as a way to support regional agriculture and environmental care, while also transferring detailed knowhow and experience in farming through co-ops in SQM agricultural programs. Professionals were hired to train participants in a variety of different areas of interest while they also completed a practical course on high school plots throughout the school year. Here they learned about both modern and traditional farming techniques for a well-rounded education in agriculture.


For the second consecutive year, SQM works with the Municipality of San Pedro de Atacama’s Employment Information Office (OMIL) on developing the Second-Chance Education Program that benefits 87 youth and adult community members. The program has been instrumental in providing participants the opportunity to finish their studies between 5th and 12th grade, thereby providing them with the tools they need to secure better job opportunities. 87 youth community members finished their elementary and secondary schooling.


For the seventh year in a row, the collaborative effort between SQM and the Crea+ Foundation continues to bear fruit both qualitatively and quantitatively. This well-rooted program still pulls in good results and is valued by both teachers and administrators at participating establishments. During 2019, the program had a direct impact on 1,620 students and 49 teachers at the following participating schools: Arturo Pérez Canto, Ignacio Carrera Pinto, Oasis del Desierto, Camar, San Bartolomé, Solor, San Pedro de Atacama, San Roque, Toconao Educational Complex and Talabre. This is our third year supporting an internship overseas in finland by awarding grants to the following three professionals who stand out for their performance and commitment to their students: Sandra Chávez, head of the San Roque de Peine school; Carla Michea, teacher at the Arturo Pérez Canto school in María Elena; and Denissa Opazo from the Oasis en el Desierto school in Pozo Almonte.


The + Lenguaje extra help program was implemented in San Pedro de Atacama municipal schools in 2019 following a trial run in late 2018. Aimed at boys and girls in 1st to 6th grade, this program has been implemented to fill educational gaps and boost test scores. Its primary objective consists of improving the students’ reading quality, speed and comprehension by providing technical support to teachers in the area, administering tests and evaluations and fostering activities related to reading comprehension. The program expects to help new generations improve their literary and reading skills by working hand in hand with language teachers, deploying and strengthening diverse tools to motivate students. Consulting services provided to the +Lenguaje Program in 2019 were earmarked for the corresponding San Pedro de Atacama schools: E-26 SPA, Toconao Educational Complex, San Roque de Peine, San Bartolomé de Socaire, Cámar, Sólor and Talabre.


In collaboration with Crea+ Foundation, a Theater Workshop was held in Toconao and San Pedro de Atacama schools. The activity gathered students from both schools who were interested in learning from a multidisciplinary team of professionals skilled in theatrical techniques, acting, makeup and script writing, culminating in a show at the workshop’s closing ceremony held before the community.


We continue supporting the Oasis en el Desierto School in Pintados, near our Nueva Victoria site, just like we have over the past 13 years.  In 2019 we launched a few initiatives such as extra-help workshops, folk dancing, music and “Story Time” to encourage children to read. SQM also contributes to celebrations on special dates, like Christmas, or educational activities, such as World Book Day. These activities benefit 75 students from the school and are in addition to the support provided by the Más Matemática Program.


Since 2015, we have offered the Environmental Education Program at the Center for Environmental Education (CEDAM) in the Pampa de Tamarugal National Reserve in the Tarapacá Region.  We also support school and institutional visits. This program is part of the environmental education objectives developed by the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) in the Tarapacá Region.


In order to foster environmental care and education, we held the first recycling contest in María Elena. Community members, 10 social organizations, schools, daycare centers and local municipality all participated. Participants rallied under the motto “sport a shirt” for recycling and formed groups to clean the streets, home and community areas in the pampa town, all organized by the Mr. Barber Foundation. Local María Elena residents attended educational lectures aimed at making them more informed for responsible environmental decision making. A total of 11.8 tons of recycled material were collected during the campaign, all with a positive impact on the local environment. Part of the Company’s ongoing efforts to preserve water resources involve providing support for the first environmental fair held in María Elena in collaboration with the Mr. Barber Foundation and the Municipality of María Elena. This fair also marked the closure of the “I Love you, Water” Campaign. This campaign set out to raise awareness about the importance of using water efficiently and showcase various water savings techniques. The campaign included the following initiatives: installing 100 water saving kits; a major field awareness campaign; and a school contest to foster creative ways students can save water. All of these activities were aimed at involving and educating the community.


For four years, SQM has provided support for environmental education activities that emphasize teaching students how to care for and appreciate the environment and water resources, create more parks and green areas, and learn about gardening/farming, etc. One of these programs is the Tocopilla Environmental Agents of Change Network whose 40 student members are agents of change from 12 education establishments. In 2019 each member establishment received a kit containing a planting table, seeds and a garden that they could use to teach others about hydroponic growing techniques. Implemented by Verdical and funded by SQM, the program has successfully created a hanging garden at the Arturo Prat school, thereby adding 10m2 of green areas that are home to nearly 500 plants. The children also participated in theoretical and practical workshops. Moreover, the Tocopilla Municipal Education Administration Department is also a member of this public private partnership that was set up to foster sustainable development in Tocopilla.


SQM is a member of the Antofagasta Industrial Association (AIA) which, alongside regional authorities, the school community and representatives of the 24 member companies, inaugurated the second floor of Building No. 6 at the Don Bosco Industrial Technical School in Calama. This building was made possible thanks to contributions from SQM, SCM and El Abra. This support was aimed at improving the education of students enrolled in this school, which is located near the Company’s operations and provides its students a combination of theoretical and practical education.


For several years now SQM has been encouraging inclusiveness-based initiatives in regard to which we have made donations to institutions whose work depends on this funding. In this context, more than 120 individuals participated in the first workday organized by the Teautismo Foundation and SQM, as part of the “Carreteando por el Desierto” program. This consisted of four days of presentations by physical therapists, psychologists, pediatric neurologists, sociologists, speech therapists and others. The event was held in María Elena in order to train healthcare professionals, teachers from the Technical High School D-133 and the Integra daycare establishments and SQM staff who all learned more about identifying and diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in area children and youth. The “Carreteando por el Desierto” Program also plans on replicating this experience in the Municipality of Tocopilla in the near future given how successful it was and how much interest there was for it in María Elena.


We are committed to supporting the communities near our operations in the Tarapacá and Antofagasta Regions, and as such we continue to hold “Employability Workshops.” Run by SQM psychologists who teach participants how to prepare for job interviews and write resumes, these workshops also provide participants the opportunity to apply for job openings available in the Company.  These workshops seek to increase the number of locals working at SQM sites. This effort is carried out in conjunction with various Employment Opportunity offices located in area towns such as Pozo Almonte and Alto Hospicio.


This is the second year that SQM has committed to an apprentice program at the Salar de Atacama operations, led by SQM supervisors and operators who had previously taken part in “train the trainers” sessions. This program brought together 26 apprentices—men and women from the communities of Toconao, Peine, Socaire, Río Grande, Camar and San Pedro de Atacama—who have joined different areas of the operations on open-term contracts. Participants rotated through nine modules in three months, acquiring soft skills and technical tools. At the end of the apprenticeship they were offered open-term contracts in different areas of SQM’s Salar de Atacama operations.

Contributing to the development of the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
To that end, the projects we develop in communities around our operations are implemented in accordance with the 17 SDGs promoted by the UN Global Compact.


Launched in 2008, SQM’s Atacama Tierra Fértil Program has helped launch numerous agricultural initiatives in the driest desert on the planet. These programs are part of our essence given our ranking as the leading fertilizer producer in the world, selling specialty products formulated to produce large yields with low water consumption. Moreover, our staff of experienced agronomists works directly with each individual farmer, advising them accordingly so they will obtain the best possible results. The Atacama Tierra Fértil Program operates in the following towns: Pozo Almonte, Quillagua, San Pedro de Atacama, Toconao, Talabre, Camar and Socaire. Designed to provide farmers with technical expertise and support for their crops and production, the program’s staff of multidisciplinary professionals provides tools for innovation to improve crops and sales of high-quality, value-added products. Respecting the unique cultural aspects and characteristics of ancestral Aymara and Atacameñan agriculture is one of its distinctive features. Over the years the program has received support from the following organizations: Antofagasta Regional Government (FIC Projects), Regional Public Works Agency of Antofagasta (Hydraulic Works Bureau), Regional Agricultural Agency of Antofagasta and Tarapacá, Foundation for Agricultural Innovation (FIA), SERCOTEC, National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI), National Institute for Agricultural Development (INDAP), as well as the municipal governments presiding over territories housing the indigenous associations and communities located near our operations.


As part of our commitment of using our expertise as a specialty fertilizer producer to foster agricultural production, we opened the Pozo Almonte Agriculture Research and Development Center in 2019. The initiative is outlined in the agreement signed by the Municipality of Pozo Almonte and SQM. The only one of its kind in the Tarapacá Region, the center’s objective is to develop hydroponic crops and produce cheese for sale on the local market. It will train anyone wishing to grow their own hydroponic crops, providing guidance as a pilot program to identify the best business processes and production techniques. Moreover, a cooperative staffed initially by six members has been set up to manage the goat cheese production facilities. Owned by the Pozo Almonte Municipality and located at the “Los Pinos” campground, the research center spans more than 1,150m2 divided among two buildings: one is used to grow hydroponic crops and the other one houses the cheese factory (duly certified by health authorities) along with a refrigerated delivery truck to ensure the cold chain remains intact. In addition to the infrastructure, SQM provides technical assistance and supplies.


As part of the SQM Atacama Tierra Fértil Program, a group of 19 farmers from Celeste, Toconao, San Pedro de Atacama and Socaire produce high-altitude wine at more than 2,400 meters above sea level. Ayllu vineyards celebrated their seventh harvest in 2019. Ayllu, which stands for community in Kunza, is an example of the local desire to develop a wine industry on the basis of modern techniques and technical assistance from Chilean and international expert consultants instead of traditional methods. Ayllu is a signature wine. Each bottle is labeled with the number of square meters, number of vines per lot, number of bottles produced per year and elevation of the vineyard. These unique features are what have enabled the wine to be sold at hotels and restaurants throughout the Antofagasta Region. Wine is currently produced from the following grape varieties: Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec, Moscatel, the traditional Chilean grape País and the recently added Sauvignon Gris. A total of 5,297 bottles of wine were produced in 2019—up 6% from 2018—which is quite a success considering the extreme climate events affecting the region this year. SQM’s support centered around providing technical monitoring and consulting during every stage of production, with an emphasis on the cooperative’s work and the combined effort of the team of associates.


This project was started back in 2013 with the opening of the 1,000 m2 Quillagua greenhouse built to grow lettuce and the Quillagua Hydroponics Farming Cooperative.  In 2018, the cooperative turned its efforts to revamping its sales program with support from SQM to purchase a refrigerated delivery truck to boost sales in nearby cities; it also began operations at its new research greenhouse. In 2019, this project entered a new phase involving the remodeling of the main greenhouse, replacing the crop bed system, energy and water circulation system and replacing the roof. The 10-member cooperative admitted six new members to its ranks. Additionally, the cooperative began discussions with the Cencosud supermarket chain in the Tarpacá Region to sell its lettuce production in 2020. The objective is to revive the cooperative and its greenhouse sales.


Activities carried out in 2019 under the Rio Grand garlic production program consisted of helping disinfect farmland with products that have a low impact on local ecosystems, and repeating the treatment when diseases were detected further on in the cycle. A total of 23 farmers participated in the garlic farming program, 15 of which were assigned to growing garlic while the remainder tended rotational crops designed for disease control. Production levels remained stable at 70% on average, with farmers’ yields ranging from 14 to 17 tons per hectare, which has had a considerably positive impact on the community. A new Río Grande farm (Hierbas Buenas) joined the project in 2019, adding 30 hectares of arable land. The first wave of support consisted of preliminary civil works.


This hydroponic production project was launched back in 2016 in Socaire as a local research center for identifying which crop species and varieties are most suited for hydroponic production in the village. At present, 6,000 heads of lettuce are grown monthly at the 1,000m2 production site, which employed four full-time local employees in 2019. The same program was replicated in the community of Talabre, where they also decided to grow fruit and leafy vegetables in live substrates, which led to hiring five traditional farmers. The program turned its efforts to upgrading and repairing infrastructure in 2019 along with building new civil works to support production, while continuing to provide technical support and monitor production.


In 2019, SQM continued its work with the Pintado Farming Colony through the Tierras de Jehová Multicultural Indigenous Association and the Juventud del Desierto Aymara Indigenous Association, while also providing specific support to local farmers. The work has focused on fostering good agriculture practices through guidance from SQM professionals in enhancing soil structures with sand and washing to recover new arable soil; assisting with the implementation of irrigation systems designed to save water; providing agricultural equipment for soil preparation, seeds and plants, all of which is supplemented with a plant nutrition program. Other initiatives have also been carried out such as growing melons and watermelons, planting grape vines and experimenting with coconut fibers as a means to introduce new techniques as alternatives to farmland substitution. Tierras de Jehová Multicultural Indigenous Association: the association’s eight farmers and their families have received support for enhancing soil structure and texture and purchasing agricultural machinery. Juventud del Desierto Aymara Indigenous Association: The association’s eight farmers and their families have received support for soil enhancement, irrigation and fertilization techniques, and purchasing agricultural materials, equipment and seeds.


Twenty members of the Pampa del Tamarugal Rural Aymara Association received feed for 4,000 heads of goats and sheep in an effort to boost small stock farming in Pozo Almonte. This is the first step taken by a working group made up of representatives from SQM and the local association. The agreement entails providing supplementary forage and feed for the goat and sheep herds along with specialized veterinary care to enhance herd management and animal production and reproduction techniques. The forty-ton supplementary feed delivery consisted of: 30 tons of alfalfa in blocks and 10 tons of concentrated feed for a total of 4,000 head of goat and sheep owned by the association’s 20 members. This is a one-time, year-long project. In late 2019, we joined efforts with CONAF and the Pampa del Tamarugal Rural Aymara Indigenous Association to begin a three-year project starting in 2020 aimed at building a 30-hectare alfalfa production unit in the Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve in the district of Pozo Almonte. SQM committed to designing and building the alfalfa production unit as well as financing equipment, supplies and materials. This unit is expected to serve as a source of forage and feed for small stock owned by participating association members.


Established in 2008 in Talabre, this program began by sowing 0.2 hectares of drip-irrigated fields of alfalfa in order to boost water efficiency and crop yield. Once the technique was approved by the farmers and the local community in 2011, the program was expanded through support from the Foundation for Farming Innovation to include research and training. In 2019, the project successfully planted an additional 5.2 hectares of alfalfa, which were divided evenly among the 25 participating farmers, for a grand total of 12 hectares of crops produced under the system, yielding 9 tons of forage per hectare earmarked for the community’s livestock. The program also provided support in the form of new machinery and maintenance on existing equipment.


SQM donated machinery and training that will enable the Indigenous Agroforestry Association in the oasis of Quillagua to add value to one of the valley’s most important resources: the Algarrobo tree and its derivatives. In 2019, efforts focused on defining the Agroforest Cluster and other measures such as hiring a forestry engineer to develop adhesion standards required by CONAF for sustainable exploitation of the forest; consultant services for designing the logo for the coal and advice for local small business owners who designed an artisan workshop proposal and alternatives for manufacturing pieces. Plans have been drawn up to build a craft workshop in 2020. The shopkeeper and site are already arranged.


SQM executives and the President of the Toconao Atacameña Community signed an agreement marking the official handover of former SQM camp facilities located in the village of Toconao. This process that began a few years ago entailed joint efforts by the community and SQM, with particularly active involvement by members of the Toconao community. Several milestones were met during this process such as: provision of the architectural plans for a resort, specialized committees comprised of community members that defined a suite of relevant aspects such as branding, tourism activities, interior design and other amenities that will be available at the resort. At the same time, a working group was formed to reach agreements for property transfer and assistance during the next phase of the project.


The 115 members of the Tocopilla Fishermen’s Independent Union received for the second consecutive year work tools as part of initiatives agreed to by the Company and the fishermen. Consumables, materials and tools were divided up into two deliveries made in 2019. The first one took place in May and consisted of 105 meters of fishing net, 38 full-body neoprene wet suits and six spools of fishing line. The second one took place in December and consisted of equipment for 31 shellfish divers and consumables for fishermen such as fishing line, nets, hooks, boots, wet suits and other items. This initiative is designed to support the local fishing village in the Port of Tocopilla, which has been affected by high seas and swells on several occasions.


The objective is to provide support to eight at-risk families living in the Tamarugal pampa, near the former Victoria Office. This is the closest human settlement to our operations. The Company supported and managed a project aimed at providing them the hot water they have always wanted. This was made possible through a partnership between the Municipality of Pozo Almonte and SQM that installed solar-heated water heaters, bathrooms and other infrastructure that truly improved the residents’ quality of life. The initiative entailed an investment of over 30 million pesos.


We teamed up with La Semilla Foundation in Tocopilla to promote entrepreneurship, partnerships, training and business development by supporting “Puerto Cowork,” a hub where local startups can meet up. For two straight years we focused on launching and consolidating projects but in 2019 we changed gears and began focusing on awarding other types of funding for startups, since the experience provided allowed them to take off and begin selling their products and services. This strategy achieved the following: 62 projects were awarded funds from Corfo, Sercotec and other private companies, raising a total ff $167 million in capital. Funds awarded: Sercotec = 63 million awarded to 18 beneficiaries from “El Puerto Cowork” CORFO = 59 million awarded to two beneficiaries from “El Puerto Cowork” Minera El Abra Empréndete Start Up Fund = 5 million awarded to one beneficiary from “El Puerto Cowork” SQM Fund = 40 million awarded to 37 beneficiaries from “El Puerto Cowork”


The “Scrap Challenge” organized by Hub Tarapacá and supported by the Chilean Development Corporation (Corfo) and SQM, aroused the interest of twelve projects. The purpose of the challenge was to add value to the non-hazardous waste generated at SQM’s Nueva Victoria site, including cardboard and wooden pallets, thereby creating a new line of business for start-ups. SQM joined the Challenge in encouraging local entrepreneurs and innovators in the wider northern area, Arica and Parinacota, Tarapacá and Antofagasta regions to get involved. The first step in the proposal consisted of identifying the gaps, followed by tackling the issues from the standpoint of traceability, use or final disposal for each of these materials, and then developing individual waste management plans for each waste stream. A jury comprised of regional experts voted on the wining project entitled “Ecowood Packaging,” led by Franklin Zepeda. The entrepreneur designed an environmentally-friendly packaging solution for Chilean fruit exports in order to do away with plastic pieces. In addition to first place, three other projects were awarded an honorable mention. They are also receiving support to launch their business and foster new regional startups.


SQM volunteers have been supporting a beautiful inclusiveness project in conjunction with the Miradas Compartida Foundation that is devoted to social and workplace integration of persons with intellectual disabilities. This entails working closely with the inclusive soccer schools in the cities of Antofagasta, Tocopilla and Santiago and groups of employees from the Company who play with the young children on inclusive teams that compete on different occasions. Additionally, in Antofagasta and Tocopilla the volunteers took part in inclusive theater classes as students alongside the children from Miradas Compartidas, as a way to experience inclusion. SQM support also included contributions for other inclusive activities carried out by the foundation in the cities where it works such as paraolympic games.

Contributing to the development of the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
To that end, the projects we develop in communities around our operations are implemented in accordance with the 17 SDGs promoted by the UN Global Compact.


We have worked with the Humberstone and Santa Laura Nitrates Museum Foundation, the Chacabuco Nitrates Museum Foundatation, the Pedro de Vakdivia Nitrates Museum Foundation and the Huanchaca Ruins Foundation for more than a decade and maintain a steady presence on each of their boards. We support initiatives that aim to add value to the history of the nitrate industry in the Tarapacá and Antofagasta regions, given our long-standing commitment to this line of historic work as natural heirs to the former saltpeter empire. Examples of these efforts include: donations to operations at the Santiago Humberstone and Santa Laura nitrates offices, the Chacabuco Nitrates Museum Foundation and the Huanchaca Ruins Foundation's Desert Museum in Antofagasta, as well as additional works finished such as lighting for the Huanchaca ruins and designing and installing exhibits at the María Elena Museum.


The making of tin and paper flower crowns is a tradition that dates back to the splendor of saltpeter. Families took root in this Pampa tradition to worship their loved ones who participated, funeral art compatible with the extreme climate of the pampa and that filled with color the cemeteries of the former nitrate offices in northern Chile. To continue rescuing and valuing this Pampa tradition, the workshop that SQM has been promoting for 8 years culminates with a pilgrimage to different nitrate cemeteries in the Antofagasta and Tarapacá regions for the day of all saints, a journey that the students of the Workshop with a bronze band to take their art to the cemeteries that lie in the vastness of the calichera pampa. Additionally in 2019 in Iquique the paper flowers were rescued.


Casa Telar is a project promoted by the ONA Foundation and SQM, its objective is to recall textile art and the ancestral knowledge of the Lickanantay culture. 2019 was marked by important advances in the program, mainly in the work groups of the communities of Toconao, Socaire, Larache and Talabre, with the fundamental objective of enhancing the value of the Lickanantay Atacameño textile industry.   Thus, for the first time, the Casa Telar Program participates in the twelfth edition of MasDeco Market, which brings together exhibitors and entrepreneurs of social innovation, design, cultural rescue and gastronomy, among other items. The delegation made up of students - representatives of communities, had the opportunity to learn about work experiences and development of projects and ventures throughout Chile, and abroad. Show the work they carry out in this territory and collect technical opinions from experts and the public about the work they carry out, which undoubtedly strengthens their work.


A group of women from María Elena and Quillagua participate in the “Tejiendo Nuestra Pampa” workshop, an initiative promoted by SQM, Fosis, La Semilla Foundation and the municipality of Maria Elena, whose work plan includes the search for constituent elements of the Pampa identity, such as the native flora, heritage buildings, saltpeter elements, among others, and which were reflected in each work designed by the Pampas weavers. It is an opportunity for personal development and entrepreneurship for all the women who participate to formalize and concretize their business ideas, providing them with public and cultural spaces that encourage the dissemination of the Pampa identity through the textile works produced by a group of committed pampinas women.


We set up Art and Culture Grants in response to a need detected in our communities and among our workers in 2019. These grants are open to SQM employees and cultural organizations interested in applying for funding. The following areas are covered under these contributions:
  • Producing and publishing books and reading material.
  • Editing and publishing artistic and cultural audiovisual material.
  • Promoting and developing music and dance in their various forms.
  • Creating and promoting handicrafts.
In 2019, lightly more than 25 million pesos were granted to the 13 winning projects.


At the foot of the Lascar Volcano, more than 3,000 meters above sea level, the indigenous community of Talabre saw a dream come true: Two lookout points for tourists were opened in the Saltar and Talabre Viejo areas. The SQM-supported initiative sought to encourage tourism as a means of diversifying the economy, which has been sustained by livestock and farming since the dawn of the settlement. Built of local rock so as not to impact the infrastructure or heritage value of the town, the lookout points feature benches, a wind-breaking wall, a table and informational signage. The Talabre community actively participated in the design and construction process, working with SQM to create a space with a panoramic view of the area and the Lascar Volcano.


In the town of Toconao, the “The Lakita Encounter: Ckoi Nisaya Ckhuri or The Voice of the Wind”, organized by the Lakitas Renacer Andino musical group and sponsored by SQM. The event attracted more than 100 performers of lakita, a traditional musical genre, turning Toconao Plaza into a real party, overflowing with colors and melodies. This project aims to promote and transfer the Atacameño legacy to the area’s new generations. For more than six hours, the crowd enjoyed the carnival led by Ckuri Ticka and Estrella Andina de San Pedro de Atacama; Lakitas del Carmen de Conchi Viejo; Hijos del Norte de Río Grande; Lakitas Amautas del Valle de Lasana and Kamac Mayu de Calama. The hosts from Toconao, Renacer Andino, and special guests, Our Lady of Los Remedios of San Juan de Quillaques,Argentina also performed.


Groups of religious dancers from Pedro de Valdivia and María Elena collaborated with SQM to represent the Pampa at the La Tirana festival and also showcase the important Tirana Chica festival, put on by the nitrates offices. The Company developed an 8-episode documentary to record the Pampa fervor for the next generation and show the process of preparing to pay homage to the virgin in northern Chile’s most important religious festival and then take center stage hosting the Tirana Chica festival, which featured 23 religious dances from María Elena and Pedro de Valdivia in 2018. Nevertheless, what was most appreciated was SQM’s contribution to improving the standard of the facilities in the town of La Tirana where the dance troops stay during the festival.


“Saberes y Sabores de Nuestra Tierra” is the name of the gastronomy program that SQM promoted in Quillagüa, and that was born in 2017 to rescue and spread the ancestral culinary art of the Aymara people, reviving traditions, celebrations, family rites and experiences that have been Transmitted from generation to generation, and which are reflected in exquisite preparations and typical dishes. The members have crossed the borders of Quillagua to spread their valuable culinary culture in important gastronomic gatherings.


SQM has supported several highquality publications such as: “María Elena: La Magia del Último Pueblo Salitrero en la Pampa”, “Álbum de la Compañía de Salitre y Ferrocarriles de Agua Santa 1896”, “Oficina Salitrera Santiago Humberstone” and “Oficinas María Elena y Pedro de Valdivia, el proceso industrial del salitre del siglo XX”. In 2013, the book “Nuestro Patrimonio Histórico Militar, Tesoro de todos los Chilenos” was published in conjunction with the Historical Military Heritage Foundation. Considerable effort has been put into researching and writing the book “Quillagua: Luna que Asombra” to be published in 2014. To commemorate 50 years of innovation and technological development, SQM in 2015 released the book "The Reinvention of the Saltpeter Industry", a work that tells the story of the splendor of the industry, and how SQM reinvented the production process of nitrate producing potassium nitrate.

Contributing to the development of the SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
To that end, the projects we develop in communities around our operations are implemented in accordance with the 17 SDGs promoted by the UN Global Compact.


For a few years now, some of the communities where we operate have expressed an interest in sports. Every year we receive requests from institutions and associations asking us to donate to or host activities to promote and fund sports events in their communities.  As such we like to support this type of project because we understand how valuable sports are to human health and to providing young people the tools they need to learn about teamwork, consistency, healthy competition, respect and other life skills.   This program is also aimed at the workers of the Company, who can participate in a series of initiatives aimed at improving their lifestyle, promoting healthy eating and sports. Some of the activities are sports classes such as Crossfit, healthy eating workshops, and fruit delivery in the Company's corporate buildings.


For the second consecutive year SQM has backed employees and community members wishing to participate in the SQM Sports Scholarship program.  In 2019, more than 30 projects were submitted (25% more than last year) and 21 were selected from among the program's four lines of action: instructional, recreational, competitive and high performance. Winning projects were implemented in the communities of María Elena, Tocopilla, Santiago, Toconao, Iquique, Antofagasta and others. They were presented by Company workers that play some sport at a competitive level, participate in sports organizations or represent relatives who are looking to promote sports and healthy living through diverse initiatives. We invite you to leans some activities carried out in 2019.


SQM also funded “Fútbol Calle,” a social project that uses sports as a vehicle to provide opportunities to men and women from Arica to Punta Arenas. On the basis of participation and inclusiveness, this project uses soccer as a platform to teach sportsmanship and values. SQM contributed to this activity in the cities of Iquique, Tocopilla and Antofagasta.


Sports are instrumental in improving the lives and education of young people, and as such we were motivated to fund tennis clinics held by internationally-renowned Chilean tennis players Nicolas Massú and Sergio Cortés in Tocopilla and María Elena. They shared their experiences with the young participants while also teaching them the theoretical and practical aspects of tennis. This top-notch sports activity was sponsored and carried out by SQM, with support from the Tocopilla Tennis Club and the Coya Sur Tennis Club in María Elena. The event provided more than a hundred children and adults the opportunity to practice different swings and serves.


SQM supports the Tocopilla Sports Club’s participation in the third division league; and its preparation and participation in the AFUNOR Soccer Championship. The team’s 30 players were cheered on by 1,800 fans attending the championship. The club’s training paid off as they proceeded to win the National Amateur Soccer Championship held in Punta Arenas, after 57 years of not qualifying for any national championships.


We joined the Ganamos Todos Foundation in organizing a program to foster sports in Tocopilla. The program consisted of sports clinics and four soccer camps for 80 boys and girls ages 8 to 10. Camps taught the children basic sports training including the fundamentals of soccer. A men’s beach soccer and beach volleyball tournament was also held in Tocopilla. A total of eight soccer teams and eight teams of volleyball doubles competed, many of whom were active employees of community institutions. This activity directly benefited 136 people and was followed by some 3,000 spectators.


More than 120 runners competed in the 2nd Toconao Family Fun Run, which, at more than 2,400 meters above sea level and in 40°C weather, is the highest race ever run in Chile. This 2k and 6k run took place with a spectacular postcard-like backdrop, and is part of SQM’s sports scholarship funding program. In Antofagasta the Company organized the SQM Family Fun Run as part of the SQM Healthier Living Program. The 5k run is a free activity open to the community at which 100+ participants ran south along the city’s coastline beginning at Trocadero Beach.