Freeport and Teck Collaborate with Communities in Chile and Canada
Copper mining is one of the world’s most intricate undertakings, with complex processes at all stages, from locating and extracting mineral-laden ore in the ground to separation and transportation to smelting. The effects are profound and long-lasting: mining projects are huge enterprises that can last for generations and require vast equipment and hundreds—sometimes thousands—of personnel. Responsible mining means that—from exploration to development and production—collaborating with local communities to ensure their well-being is a must.
Chile, atop the planet’s most vast copper reserves, is host to Minera El Abra, a subsidiary of Freeport McMoRan, one of the world’s largest copper miners. It is also home to Fundación Acrux, a special nonprofit which Minera El Abra financially supports in the Antofogasta Region, high in the Andes Mountains where its operations are located.
Foundations of Good Health
Fundación Acrux is a unique undertaking comprised of volunteer medical professionals who offer medical services to patients hailing from some of the most remote places in Chile’s mountainous, desert regions. Minera El Abra funds its work to provide enhanced healthcare for communities throughout the region. The nonprofit collaborates closely with Freeport, Chilean government officials and the Chilean Navy (Armada de Chile) to ensure coordination and knowledge sharing across its vast programs.
Acrux’s 43 volunteer specialists, working with officials from the Ministry of Health and Chile’s Navy, have performed over 1,734 consultations and surgeries. In Mejillones, staff conducted 1,045 medical services, including 562 consultations, 17 procedures and 466 exams. In Tocopilla, meanwhile, patients benefited from 689 visits with Acrux, of which 396 were consultations, 80 procedures, 172 exams and 41 were surgeries. The organization provided specialists in cardiology, urology, ophthalmology, gynecology, nutrition, radiology, geriatrics and psychology. Sonographers and vascular surgeons also conducted consultations and procedures.
The health of the people who live around our mining operation are a priority for the company. It is a privilege for us to support this initiative.”
– Rubén Funes, Manager, Minera El Abra
A team of specialists with Acrux provided families with programs on obesity and child as well as senior health and wellness in Tocopilla. The Chilean Navy, meanwhile, transported both patients and ultrasound and other heavy equipment in a naval helicopter and patrol ship. Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Health coordinated the programming of healthcare, logged appointments, stored medical records and tracked expenses.
In 2018, the Acrux Foundation conducted operations in eight localities across Chile, with 16,000 medical consultations by patients with 262 professionals. Altogether, 590 volunteer professionals participated, representing 24 different medical specialties and the fields of counseling, social services and nutrition.
Partners with Local Communities
Worldwide, the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work” for all advanced significantly in 2018. To this end, Teck Resources has engaged Indigenous communities near its Highland Valley Copper (HVC) project in the traditional territory of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, 9,500 km (5,900 miles) to the north of Chile in British Columbia, Canada.
More broadly, 95 percent of its 1,260 employees—and 26 percent of its senior management—aare local hires at HVC, one of the world’s largest mines. Moreover, Teck partners closely with local communities, agencies and Indigenous groups to mitigate flooding and wildfire impacts in the region and to support relief efforts.
Since 2017, Teck entered into four agreements with local organizations representing 16 communities near HVC to undertake joint decisions on regulatory matters based on consensus. These created communications protocols and a community working group to guide consultations about land use and operations by the mine. The group also conducted a survey to elicit feedback by members of the community on the mining site tour and reclamation.
To support agreements with the community group, HVC established performance indicators on all areas of implementation for review by senior project managers each quarter. This review process has, in turn, generated enhanced awareness by company personnel and members of the community about issues critical to the operations and standards at the mine.
Procuring for Progress
Core to Teck’s agreements with Indigenous Peoples is procurement. In the past two years, HVC’s percentage of purchases with local suppliers increased to 37 percent, a 10 percent increase over 2014. This change follows new guidelines that HVC developed in 2016 to better incorporate commitments into the procurement process and to increase contracts awarded to Indigenous enterprises while ensuring safety.
Meanwhile, since 2017, Teck has enjoyed robust community feedback related to procurement. As part of the ongoing process, Teck officials now regularly engage community members to submit feedback on the bidding; they listen to concerns and implement corrective actions as required.
With growing demands for copper from emerging markets, global miners must mine responsibly and sustainably. As they tackle this challenge, initiatives led by Freeport, Teck and other members of the International Copper Association serve as guideposts for copper producers and others operating in this technology-laden industry.
About Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Freeport-McMoRan operates large, long-lived, geographically diverse assets of copper, gold and molybdenum and is the world’s largest publicly traded copper producer. Its mines include the Grasberg district in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest copper-gold deposits, and major operations in North and South America, encompassing the large-scale Morenci minerals district in Arizona, the Cerro Verde operation in Peru and El Abra in Chile.
About Teck Resources Ltd.
Headquartered in Vancouver, Teck is Canada’s largest diversified resource firm. Dedicated to responsible mining and mineral development across jurisdictions, it has a major focus on copper, in addition to steelmaking coal, zinc and energy. Teck has four operating copper mines in Canada, Chile and Peru, and copper development projects in North and South America.
About Minera El Abra
Nearly 50 miles north of Calama, in Chile’s El Loa province, Region II, El Abra is an open-pit complex. The asset is 51 percent Freeport-owned and 49 percent controlled by Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (CODELCO). El Abra includes a capacity of 500 million pounds of copper cathode per year, a 125,000 metric ton-per-day.
About Highland Valley Copper
The Highland Valley Copper (HVC) project lies 17 km west of Logan Lake and approximately 50 km southwest of Kamloops in British Columbia. Teck has a 100% stake in HVC a large, low-grade copper and molybdenum deposit.
About The Copper Alliance®
The Copper Alliance is a network of regional copper centers and their industry-leading members. It is responsible for guiding policy and strategy and for funding international initiatives and promotional activities. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the organization has offices in four primary regions: Europe and Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. Copper Alliance programs and initiatives are executed in more than 60 countries through its regional offices and country-level copper promotion centers.