Mining giant BHP inks four renewable energy deals for Chilean copper sites

Key Points
  • BHP says the deals will, from 2022, displace 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year
  • The firm is one of several major mining companies turning to renewable source of energy to power operations. 
Oliver Llaneza | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

The world's biggest mining firm by market value has struck four new renewable energy agreements for its copper operations in Chile.

In an announcement Monday BHP said it was making a provision of around $780 million in relation to the cancelation of existing coal contracts it had.

The President of BHP Minerals Americas, Daniel Malchuk, said the "new renewable energy" contracts would increase flexibility for the firm's power portfolio and "ensure security of supply for our operations, while also reducing costs and displacing CO2 emissions."

Malchuk added that the contracts would "deliver an estimated 20 percent reduction in energy prices" at the Escondida and Spence sites.

Fifteen-year contracts have been agreed with Enel Generacion Chile for 3 terawatt hours (TWh) per year while 10-year contracts, again for 3 TWh, have been agreed with Colbun.

The Enel agreements will start in August 2021 while the contracts with Colbun will commence in January 2022.

In terms of environmental impact BHP said the deals would, from 2022, displace 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year compared to the fossil fuel-based contracts being replaced.

BHP is one of several mining companies turning to renewables.

In May, Rio Tinto said it would purchase renewable energy certificates for its Kennecott Utah Copper facility and also shut its coal power plant. The business said the move would cut the operation's annual carbon footprint by more than 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

In July, AngloAmerican signed a deal with Enel Generacion Chile for the supply of 3 TWh a year for a 10-year period.

According to Enel the deal will enable AngloAmerican to cut its total carbon dioxide emissions in Chile by more than 70%.