SQM’s Salar de Atacama operation becomes the world’s first lithium mining operation to achieve IRMA 75
SQM is one of the first lithium mining companies to undergo an IRMA audit globally.
Through these audits, an IRMA-trained and approved audit firm evaluates the operation across 26 areas, including water management, human rights, greenhouse gas emissions, and fair labor, among others. IRMA is the most comprehensive, rigorous, and transparent mining standard in the world, developed over more than 10 years with input from numerous stakeholders. IRMA members include key players in the electric vehicle industry, including, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Volkswagen AG.
The IRMA scoring system recognizes four levels of performance: IRMA Transparency, In which a mine is third-party-assessed and publicly shares its scores; IRMA 50 or 75, signifying that a mine shares its scores and furthermore meets a core set of critical requirements together with at least 50 percent or 75 percent achievement of the possible score in each of the four principles of the Standard for Responsible Mining (business integrity, planning for positive legacies, social and environmental responsibility); and IRMA 100, vhich means the mine meets all of the Standard’s requirements.
The ranking is an additional reinforcement of SQM’s commitment to transparency of its operations and reflects SQM’s commitment to produce the world’s most sustainable lithium in the Salar de Atacama.
Committed to sustalnable mining and supporting human progress, SOM’s goal is to establish environmentally responsible processes. SQM is working towards the carbon neutrality of its lithium products by 2030 and company-wide carbon neutrality by 2040. It has also joined the Race to Zero, a global campaign of 11,000 organizations taking rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2050 (at the latest) while meeting science-aligned criteria. In the same context, SQM has reduced its continental water consumption by 50% in the Salar de Atacama and aims at reducing continental water use by 65% company-wide by 2040. To achieve that, a dedicated team of SQM scientists conducts ongoing monitoring, leveraging their unique knowledge of geological and hydrogeological conditions of the Salar de Atacama.
SQM leads the industry in value sharing, with the company becoming Chile’s largest taxpayer in 2022, contributing over US$5 billion to the Chilean treasury and regional stakeholders. In addition to corporate taxes and a progressive lease payment structure, which ensures that SQM’s contributions rise with the price of lithum, SQM is dedicated to sharing the value of its operations with local communities. SQM contributes between USS$10-15 million annually to neighboring indigenous communities in the Salar de Atacama. Additionally, 1.7% of SOM Salar revenues are paid to the regional government of Antofagasta, the municipalities of Antofagasta, Maria Elena, and the commune of San Pedro de Atacama. To support the development of the local economy, SQM also heavily invests In RED in the region.
SQM’s workin the region to empower local communities is focused on the creation of shared social value. SOM continues to work with communities across the region to share knowledge in key areas such as entrepreneurship, agronomics, and education, as well as supporting medical and dental services, iImproving the well-being of remote communities. SQM 1s also proud to welcome an increasing number of people from neighboring communities to work in its operations through training and apprenticeship programs.
Ricardo Ramos, SGM’s CEO, commented: “Achieving IRMA 75 for our Salar de Atacama lithum operations is a significant milestone and a testament to the hard work of everyone at SQM. Committing our lithium mining operations to an IRMA audit and to the transparent sharing of audit results reflects our desire to improve and have an open dialogue with all affected stakeholders. We will continue to build on our work to become the world’s most sustainable source of lithium, to contribute to the communities surrounding the Salar de Atacama and to work on further reducing our environmental footprint. This audit serves as our roadmap to IRMA 100, a complete compliance with IRMA Standards. The energy transition must be fair and sustainable, and we are proud to play our part. There is a lot of work still to be done, but n collaboration with our stakeholders, we are committed to investing the requisite efforts to achieve our shared vision.”
Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of IRMA, said: “We congratulate the SQM team who undertook this IRMA audit. It demonstrates SQM’s commitment to transparency and community engagement, and their intentilon to continue to improve social and environmental performance at their Salar de Atacama operation.”