Industry Trend Analysis - Seawater, The New Freshwater For Copper Mines - FEB 2016


BMI View: Copper miners operating in Chile will shift to seawater su pply owing to freshwater scarcity over the next decade . As such, f irms will face significant investment requirements to build desalination plants.

Chilean copper miners operating in the Atacama desert will increasingly shift from freshwater to seawater resources as ongoing droughts exacerbate water shortages and declining ore grades require growing amounts of water. According to a January 2016 study by Cochilco, Chile's state copper commission, the country's copper industry will increase water consumption by nearly 70% by 2025, with seawater desalination plants accounting for approximately one-third of water demand by miners. As copper ore grades decline in Chile, miners will continue to ramp up production to maintain consistent or slightly positive output growth, requiring increasing amounts of water and power. We forecast Chile's copper output to climb from 6.0mn tonnes (mnt) in 2016 to 6.4mnt by 2020, averaging 1.6% annual growth.

Shift To Seawater To Entail High Up Front Costs

Miners Out To Sea For Water
Chile - Copper Mining Water Consumption By Source (cubic metres per second)
e/f = Cochilco estimate/forecast. Source: Cochilco

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