The Project involves the development, construction and operation of a seawater desalination plant, its associated marine intake and outfall structures, a water pumping system of approximately 160 km in length, and the associated electrical infrastructure.
The desalination plant (DP), which will include pre-treatment, reverse osmosis and post-treatment associated works, will have a design flow rate of 1,956 liters per second (l/s). Desalinated water will be transported from this facility via an underground pipeline system of approximately 160 km in length and pumped through four pumping stations to an industrial water reservoir located on the grounds of the Radomiro Tomic Division [División Radomiro Tomic] (DRT), near the mine of the same name, where the water will be used.
The intended purpose of the martime works is to capture seawater and discharge the brine derived from the desalination process. The seawater will be taken in via a system comprised of two towers (which include a sodium hypochlorite injection system and an anti-jellyfish air injection system), two pipelines, and the bilge, located on land, from which the seawater will be pumped to the desalinization plant. The discharge structure will be comprised of a load chamber, the discharge pipes and a diffuser located at the end of the pipeline.
The total cost of the Project is estimated in one billion US$ dollars.
The place where the DP will be located has practically no vegetation, as it is situated in the desertic region of Chile's Norte Grande. Nevertheless, flora records show the presence of 15 species of vascular plants, all of them native, from which two have conservation status: Eulychnia iquiquensis (vulnerable), and Solanum sitiens (vulnerable and rare). As to wildlife, records show the presence of the Constanza's tree iguana (Liolaemus constanzae(, the Golden-spotted ground dove (Metriopelia aymara), the Culpeo fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), the Lima leaf-eared mouse (Phyllotis limatus), the Mountain caracara (Phalcoboenus megalopterus), and the Plain-mantled tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura aegithaloides), all considered "least concern" species.
The Project has been classified as a Category A (High-Risk) operation according with IDB Invest´s Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy, since it will likely generate, among other, the following impacts: i) increase of the concentration of combustion gases and particulate matter in the air; ii) increase of sound level pressure and vibrations; iii) loss of soil, alteration of groundwater quality, possible loss of flora individuals in conservation category, and impact in fauna habitat; iv) potential modifications of benthic communities, of the physical and chemical characteristics of seawater, and of the planktonic communities in the ocean; v) alteration of traffic flows and road safety interference; vi) possible changes in demographic structure of the nearby communities; vii) possible alteration of archaeological sites and national monuments; viii) modifications to the visual quality of the landscape; ix) generation of electromagnetic fields and x) alteration of the hydrological regime in the recipient watershed. These impacts are deemed to be of medium-high to high importance. The following performance standards are applicable:
PS 1: Assessment and Management of Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts
PS 2: Labor and Working Conditions
PS 3: Resource Efficiency and Pollution Prevention
PS 4: Community Health, Safety, and Security
PS 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources
PS 8: Cultural Heritage
The Project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) was classified as environmentally favorable by the Environmental Evaluation Commission of the Antofagasta Region [Comisión de Evaluación Ambiental de la Región de Antofagasta] through Resolution No. 0022 EX of 20 January 2016. An Environmental Impact Statement [Declaración de Impacto Ambiental] (DIA), which introduced adjustments to the desalination plant in order to optimize its design and hasten the execution thereof, has been submitted to the Environmental Authority for analysis and approval.
The environmental and social management program set out in the EIA contains three major types of plans: (i) Mitigation Measures Plan, which includes plans to manage the physical environment, the biotic environment, and cultural heritage; (ii) Compensation Measures Plan, which comprises compensation plans for the physical, human, cultural, and perceptual environments; and (iii) Voluntary Measures Plan, which contains a series of actions and commitments voluntarily adopted by the client to benefit the neighboring communities.
Were it to participate in the transaction, IDB Invest would hire an independent environmental and social consultant to help in the Environmental and Social Due Diligence (ESDD) process, assess likely environmental risks, confirm the Project’s classification, evaluate management plans to mitigate such risks, and define an environmental and social action plan (ESAP) for the Project to close any gap that might exist between what was verified during the EDSS and the requirements of the IDB Invest Sustainability Policy.
As part of the ESDD process, IDB Invest would: (i) Visit the Project site; (ii) evaluate the environmental, social, and health and safety system to be adopted, including its associated plans and procedures; (iii) inspect the campsites and industrial areas; (iv) verify the scope of the public consultation process; and (v) evaluate the basic data and social and labor issues related to the Project.
An Environmental and Social Review Summary (ESRS) will be prepared and published on this website once IDB Invest’s involvement in the transaction has been confirmed and the ESDD has been concluded.