Copiapó Basin Library

Sustainable Development Threats, Inter-Sector Confl icts and Environmental Policy Requirements in the Arid, Mining Rich, Northern Chile Territory

Author Jorge Oyarzún and Ricardo Oyarzún
Date 2011
Type Artículo
Contents Introduction, Geology and Mineral Resources in Chile, Climate and Water Resources, The Chilean Water Management System, Mining–Farming Competition for Scarce Water Resources in North Chile, Options for Mining Companies and Likely Consequences, Prospects on Additional Stress Factors on Water Availability, Conclusion
Summary Northern Chile has been an N–S arid to semiarid belt for more than 100 million years. Also, it is one of the world’s most richly endowed territories in terms of Cu(Mo) porphyric deposits. Its mining output has steadily grown since the 1980s and has recently benefi ted from increased Asian demand and high Cu prices. The scarce water resources are allocated according to the 1981 act that emphasizes economic effi ciency based on free transference between water-right owners. As a result, water rights have attained peak market prices, at the US$200 000 level per l/s. Besides the consequences of the uneven mining–agricultural competition for water rights and the environmental effects of accelerated groundwater withdrawal, social unrest has locally attained serious levels, in particular in the Atacama Region. Therefore, the central government is considering signifi cant changes to the present legislation, allowing a stronger participation of the state in water management issues.
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