SQM Provides Online Data on Resource Extraction and Environmental Management in the Salar de Atacama
“SQM Online”, the new virtual monitoring system launched by the mining company, provides daily reports on industrial water and brine extraction and other environmental information of interest. This act of transparency functions as a means of assurance for authorities, the community and interested parties.
Although the Salar de Atacama lithium operations have always had an environmental monitoring system, for the first time in the company’s history it is available to all interested persons and organizations. The brainchild of SQM, this project not only meets the company’s commitments in the contract amendment signed with Corfo in 2018, but also strengthens the creation of shared social value as well as concern and respect for people, the environment and communities. In this spirit, the mining company made the “SQM Online” site available to the community as of August 31st. Its environmental monitoring system will provide access to parameters and variables from approximately 300 measurement points set up by the company all around the Salar de Atacama.
With this milestone towards more sustainable mining, SQM will report on controls and monitoring of environmental variables at its operations and in surrounding areas. Users may access information regarding brine and industrial water extraction, meteorological data, environmental monitoring variables and other information of interest in order to learn more about its operations.
According to Javier Silva, who manages the Corfo contract for SQM: “The new site features very diverse information, from continuous measurement systems to variables such as extractions and levels, and on-site measurements by SQM personnel and external entities validated to perform these tasks. The frequency of these measurements is based on commitments in the Environmental Qualification Resolutions (RCA in Spanish) in force, and rulings from the Superintendency of the Environment regarding online monitoring systems.”
The executive added: “The company invested US$1,000,000 in this online monitoring system designed to provide more information on sensitive environmental systems and surrounding areas in order to enhance knowledge of their hydrogeological and hydrological dynamic. Other objectives include maintaining records to detect any deviations and be able to take concrete, preventative actions that ensure the system is maintained in accordance with environmental commitments. We are committed to making this information public as a means of verifying compliance with extraction obligations, based on established operating rules, in order to assure the sustainability of the Salar de Atacama.”
What will you find on the page?
The page will be used to publish daily, online information about the quantity of brine extracted based on limits approved by environmental authorities. This information consists of daily and cumulative indicators from controls of established operating rules.
The site also shows indicators on water extracted from each well with environmental authorization, in the form of average daily flow, while also specifying the limit in force for each well. The information is based on the volume extracted from each well and is recorded every minute. In addition, SQM has incorporated information on historical levels and, since March 2020, continuous levels based on the latest monitoring ruling in line with the General Water Administration (DGA in Spanish).
The platform features state-of-the-art technology for reporting on daily water extraction and water table levels at each of the five wells where the company possesses rights approved by environmental authorities.
SQM’s environmental control and monitoring efforts are based on a robust environmental management system designed to verify that environmental variables evolve according to projections and with a view to caring for sensitive systems. For that, biotic variables and at least 225 hydrogeological monitoring points are monitored and continuously deliver information on: water table levels, surface flows and levels, lagoon areas, physical-chemical parameters, etc.
Furthermore, for a better understanding of our Salar de Atacama operations and the importance of ongoing environmental monitoring in the area, there is a special section with a conceptual model of the Salar that meticulously explains the hydrological cycle and monitoring areas along with the variables monitored in each area.
SQM plays a leading role in global sustainable development and in industries that are key for human development. In this spirit, the company is committed to operating responsibly and sustainably, minimizing its emissions and water use and helping care for the environment. Thus, it looks to minimize the direct impact on flora and fauna, working together with communities to care for and protect ecosystems.
Click here to explore this new platform in detail.