Marimaca Builds ‘Green Copper’ Credentials

Published on 14 Jun 2024

Green Copper

In a compelling interview with Mining Journal’s Chris Cann, Marimaca’s chief executive, Hayden Locke, delves into the sustainable initiatives of Marimaca’s copper project in Chile. As environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations become increasingly critical in the mining sector, Marimaca is setting itself apart with its commitment to producing low-carbon copper. This video offers an insightful look into how Marimaca leverages its natural advantages and innovative strategies to build a climate-friendly mining operation.

The Importance of ESG in Modern Mining

Locke begins by acknowledging the growing significance of sustainability and ESG factors in the mining industry over the past decade. Regulatory requirements, permitting processes, and investor expectations have all evolved to prioritize environmentally responsible practices. For Marimaca, these considerations are not just regulatory obligations but are integral to the company’s strategic planning and operational philosophy.

Natural Advantages of Marimaca's Asset

Marimaca’s copper project is uniquely positioned to minimize its carbon footprint. One of the key advantages is the project’s low strip ratio, which reduces the amount of diesel required per ton of material moved. This inherently lowers the overall carbon emissions of the operation. Additionally, the project benefits from being located in an area with abundant renewable energy resources. The Atacama Desert, where the project is situated, provides access to renewable-powered grids, significantly reducing the project's reliance on fossil fuels.

SX-EW Processing Route

A major highlight of Marimaca’s approach is the use of the SX-EW (solvent extraction-electrowinning) processing route. This method is inherently less carbon-intensive compared to traditional concentrate projects. By avoiding the need to ship and smelt concentrates, Marimaca further reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Locke emphasizes that this processing choice aligns perfectly with the company’s goal of becoming a leading producer of low-carbon copper.

Challenges and Trade-offs

While Marimaca is well-positioned to lead in sustainable copper production, Locke acknowledges ongoing challenges and trade-offs. The company is actively exploring ways to reduce its carbon footprint, such as electrifying its mining fleet. However, these decisions must be balanced against economic considerations. Locke explains that while the company is committed to sustainability, it must also ensure that its investments are economically rational and do not unduly burden shareholders.

Water Management in the Atacama Region

One of the significant challenges for any mining project in Chile, particularly in the arid Atacama region, is water management. Locke discusses the proactive steps Marimaca has taken to address this issue. Recognizing the unsustainable nature of relying on fresh water in a water-stressed region, Marimaca has used seawater for its operations. The company has secured an option agreement with a local power producer to recycle seawater used in industrial processes, thereby mitigating its water-related risks and supporting local industry.

Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Marimaca’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond environmental considerations. The company actively engages with local communities and other stakeholders to ensure that its operations are socially responsible. This includes transparent communication about potential risks and the steps being taken to mitigate them. Locke highlights that Marimaca’s project is situated in an area of low biodiversity and minimal agricultural activity, further reducing its environmental impact.

Governance and Future Steps

The governance aspect of ESG is also a priority for Marimaca. The company has established an ESG committee to identify and address potential risks. To ensure that its ESG efforts are both effective and cost-efficient, Marimaca utilizes the Digbee assessment framework. This tool helps the company prioritize actions based on their potential impact and feasibility, allowing for a phased approach to ESG implementation that evolves with the company’s growth.


Marimaca’s commitment to building a green copper operation is evident in its strategic choices and proactive measures. The company’s focus on low-carbon production, innovative water management solutions, and comprehensive stakeholder engagement sets a benchmark for sustainability in the mining industry.

To gain a deeper understanding of Marimaca’s sustainable initiatives and the broader implications for the copper industry, watch the full interview with Hayden Locke. The video provides valuable insights into the company’s ESG strategies and its challenges. By watching, you will learn how Marimaca is positioning itself as a leader in low-carbon copper production and what it means for the future of sustainable mining.


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