SQM Expands Capacity of Quillagua’s Rural Drinking Water Reservoir

SQM Expands Capacity of Quillagua’s Rural Drinking Water Reservoir


The works are part of a series of projects that the company is carrying out together with the local Aymara community and the government to promote initiatives that guarantee a continuous supply of water resources, care for the native carob tree forest and its biodiversity, and other requirements that promote local social and production development.

Contributing to Quillagua’s social and production development, with a focus on local priorities, is the driving force behind SQM’s work in the community. One such initiative included remodeling and expanding the town’s drinking water reservoir built two years ago in a joint effort by the community, the company and the regional government. The reservoir now has a larger capacity of 30,000 to 40,000 cubic meters, to improve and maintain a continuous supply of this valuable resource.

This milestone was celebrated by the community in a ceremony attended by local authorities, community leaders and company executives. An agreement was also signed with the Aymara community and the Chilean National Forestry Corporation (Conaf), by which SQM agrees to loan 17.5 hectares of the “Cerco de Monte Oro” farmland for agroforestry conservation.

In addition, two pickup trucks were donated to the Aymara community of Quillagua and the Rural Drinking Water Committee to facilitate travel in the area to monitor the reservoir and complete other administrative tasks. This donation was made at the event, which also included a Catholic religious service and traditional “Padua” and “Challa” blessings for the vehicles and their users.

Pablo Pisani, Director of Communities and Public Affairs for SQM’s Nitrates and Iodine businesses, highlighted the importance of this set of initiatives developed jointly with the communities. “For us to be able to expand the reservoir and provide water security to Quillagua during the summer months is extremely significant and is a great achievement, making 40,000 cubic meters available during this critical time. There are also other related initiatives such as the pickup trucks, which are a basic need for the Rural Drinking Water Committee and the community, and the agroforestry project with Conaf via a gratuitous loan of the Monte de Oro property,” explained the executive.

The Mayor of María Elena, Omar Norambuena, the district where the town of Quillagua is located and one of the main valleys in the Antofagasta Region, added that “these initiatives take on a real sense of territorial belonging when strategic alliances with companies like SQM meet a need that brings together a community. The community appreciates this gesture of considerably expanding the reservoir to meet the needs of the coming summer.”


Local Impact

Anita Huichaman, Regional Director of Conaf, referred to the gratuitous loan of 17.5 hectares of land from the “Cerco Monte de Oro” farm, an initiative that seeks to conserve the Quillagüa agroforestry oasis ecosystem by sustainbly managing forest resources and the surrounding lands to boost the socioeconomic development of the local Aymara indigenous community.

“We are very happy with the loan of these hectares to the Aymara community, which is a sector of great ecological importance due to its great biodiversity with birds, amphibians and insects; that’s in addition to the value for the region of this native carob tree forest, from a forestry perspective, which needs to be managed and promoted for the benefit of the community,” commented the representative.

About the initiatives, Cesar Castro, President of the Quillagua Aymara Community, remarked:  “The water issue is something very critical and all the other complementary projects like the donation of the pickup trucks by SQM, are something we are grateful for because they were needed to manage and protect our ancestral territory, with initiatives like the gratuitous loan of the land to restore the forest.”

Adriana Sánchez, president of the Rural Drinking Water Committee of Quillagua, said: “We are celebrating the truck donation, which is very important for us because it will allow us to move from the plant to the reservoir, which are very long distances for the operators that are very hard to cover on foot or by bicycle, especially during the hot season. With the vehicle we can travel, make the necessary purchases to change piping or do administrative tasks for the plant, so we are very grateful to SQM for this contribution.