SQM ratifies its commitment to sustainability in report on its 2020 performance
In its new report, the mining company places special emphasis on the creation of shared social value as well as concern and respect for people, the environment and neighboring communities.
SQM presented its performance in its newly published 2020 Sustainability Report. Published since 2009, the report discloses practices that strengthen ties with its stakeholders. It conveys the operation’s main economic, environmental and social indicators as well as the most important milestones for the year. Internal report preparation and external assurance by Deloitte Advisory SpA are conducted in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines.
Published annually, the report expresses the company’s far-reaching and unwavering commitment to the sustainability of its business as well as to the Corporate Sustainability Plan and related targets for the coming years, which it presented to the public in October 2020. In the same spirit, the mining company has pledged its allegiance to the mission of promoting and disseminating the UN Global Compact’s 10 Principles and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by integrating them into its strategic guidelines.
“We decided to reaffirm our commitment to sustainability by adding it to our values of Safety, Excellence and Integrity. We prioritized these principles and goals as a guide. The aspiration is based on three action areas: Our Environment, Our People and Our Contribution to Sustainable Industries. In each of those areas, we have committed to the targets and commitments described in the report’s 15 chapters,” said Ricardo Ramos Rodríguez, Chief Executive Officer of SQM.
Under this sustainable approach, the operation is implementing concrete programs to cut brine extraction in half by 2030, which began with a 20% reduction in November 2020. Additionally, the operation aims to reduce continental water consumption by 65% by 2040, starting with 40% by 2030 according to 2020 projections. The operation also aspires to be carbon neutral in all our products by 2040.
Major milestones and challenges
SQM participated actively in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index assessment for the first time in 2020. Placing among Chile’s five most sustainable companies according to the IPSA ESG, the company qualified for the DJSI Chile and the DJSI MILA Pacific Alliance. Similarly, SQM pledged to adhere to the sustainability principles of the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance (GBA). The Initiative for Responsible Mining (IRMA) self-assessment process at the Salar de Atacama operations was another important milestone. Certification is pending and the operation plans to implement the process company-wide.
SQM has 5,507 direct employees in Chile and around the world. It also operates with 243 local suppliers in the Tarapacá and Antofagasta regions, averaging a total of 7,402 contractors each year. Women account for 17.1% of the company’s global workforce, a figure that exceeds the mining industry’s national average. SQM plans to reach its 20% target by 2021 and to exceed legal requirements for hiring people with disabilities.
In health, the company activated the COVID-19 Corporate Protocol to safeguard employee health and integrity. It also implemented the SQM Community Support Plan focusing on four action areas: health, social wellbeing, education and healthy living, and economic recovery. The plan generated numerous initiatives to support neighboring communities in these areas.
In education and healthy living, SQM reformulated its education programs for distance learning as a result of the pandemic. Some of these virtual initiatives included: Vilti Semann, “Aprendo Contigo” (“Learning with You”) by Fundación Choshuenco, Family Gardens by Fundación Mr Barber, and the Second-Chance Education Program in San Pedro de Atacama.
SQM has a close relationship with more than 20 communities near its operations in the Antofagasta and Tarapacá regions, where it co-creates and backs several projects under four lines of action: Education and Culture, Social Development, Historical Heritage and Healthy Living. This bond is built on the basis of transparency, respect, trust and direct involvement.