One year after the launch of this plan, the company is taking concrete steps towards meeting goals in different areas and securing international certifications with high transparency and reportability standards.
Moving towards carbon neutrality is one of the main goals that SQM sets out in its robust Sustainability Plan, launched one year ago. During this period, the organization has taken important steps towards meeting the challenge of contributing to strategic industries for human development.
“We are proud of the progress we have made in the year that has passed since we launched this plan, which guides our organization’s work. This shows that we are on the right path, and that has led us to reaffirm our commitment to sustainability in three areas: Contribution to Sustainable Industries, Our People and Our Environment. We believe in the importance of challenging our operational practices and reducing our impact on the environment, expanding dialogue, building close relationships with neighboring communities and achieving a high standard of transparency in everything we do,” states José Miguel Berguño, SQM Senior Vice President of Corporate Services.
In the area “Contribution to Sustainable Industries,” SQM is committed to developing its products with high safety standards through an environmentally friendly production process. The applications and uses of its business lines contribute to the development of industries that improve people’s quality of life: health, nutrition, technology, renewable energies and sustainable mobility.
In the area of “Our Environment,” the company has set goals like reducing brine extraction by 50% by 2030, which began with a 20% reduction in November 2020; reducing continental water consumption by 65% by 2040 starting with a 40% increase by 2030; and reaching carbon neutrality in all of its products by 2040 and for lithium, potassium chloride and iodine by 2030.
The Company has already made significant progress. For example it has reduced fresh water extraction in Salar de Atacama. Only 180 L/s are operational out of an environmentally approved total of 240 L/s, which translates into a 35% decrease. Furthermore, SQM uses only 2% of its water rights in Salar.
Other key actions taken include adding electric vehicle fleets for personnel transportation, electric trucks and mobile workshops. The Company also has signed a contract that promotes a circular economy in the Coya Sur and Pedro de Valdivia sites by recycling unused HDPE tubes, which are cut up using a wood chipper. The primary material obtained through that process is sent to the company Polytex, which makes new tubing that SQM then purchases.
The third area of this robust sustainability plan is “Our People.” The mining company ensures safe and inclusive work conditions, participates in local economies and is working towards the sustainable development of the communities located near its operations. SQM has over 1,000 female employees who represent 18% of its workforce, which exceeds the average for the mining industry.
Its community engagement work has included opening community offices in Huara, Pozo Almonte, Quillagua and María Elena. These entities manage community relations by serving as a direct communication channel. The company has also launched a new communications channel called the “Community Portal” for residents of neighboring communities, which comes in addition to the community lines created in Pozo Almonte, María Elena and Quillagua.
This progress is also reflected in the Company being included on the demanding global benchmark indices “S&P Dow Jones Index” Chile and MILA DJSI for the second straight year, scoring within the top 5% of the global chemical industry, which shows the organization’s significant improvement in economic, environmental, social and governance criteria.
It also performed well in a diagnostic process communicated in December 2021 by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an international non-profit that runs the most complete disclosure system on climate management. Participating for the first time in this competitive certification, SQM earned category B, which places it above the regional average for South America and among the top 48% of companies from the international chemical industry attaining the same management level.
The organization committed to identifying increasing risks related to climate change in line with this report. In 2022, we will join efforts to increase awareness of water conservation issues by establishing goals that will allow SQM to achieve global leadership within sustainable industries.
High Global Standards
As part of its sustainability goals, the Company pledged to adhere to the principles of the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance (GBA). SQM also joined the UN’s Race to Zero initiative, which aligns with the Paris Accord and demonstrates its commitment to climate action and carbon neutrality. The Company also received the Responsible Care certification in Tocopilla along with recertification for the Nueva Victoria site.