With numerous guests in attendance, the cornerstone was laid for the project, which is part of a three-way agreement between SQM, Compañía Minera Cordillera and the Wayanay Foundation.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Seabird Rescue Center was held at the Patache Maritime Terminal, where the modern center will be built, and was attended by regional authorities, representatives from coastal communities and representatives of Compañía Minera Cordillera and SQM.
The event began with an Ancestral Aymara Pawa Ceremony, led by the community healer, or yatiri, Javier Vilca, to ask for Mother Earth’s permission to erect the Rescue Center there and her blessing for the success of its mission.
This Seabird Rescue Center is a pioneering initiative in the region and will be located in a strategic site to better support the local bird population. The initiative arose from the joint effort of Compañía Minera Cordillera and SQM, and will be executed by the Wayanay Foundation. It will be the first rescue center located on the coastline in the Tarapacá Region and will feature a sustainable and environmentally friendly design.
It will be constructed entirely with recycled structures, thus making its carbon footprint neutral and having a positive environmental impact on the environment, flora and fauna. It will also use a sustainable management model and aims to generate more spaces for the community at large, since it will be open to the general public.
The 75m2 center will be used mainly for research activities, leaving approximately half of the space for conservation of rescued endangered species. It will be the most important rescue center in Chile’s far north, known as the Norte Grande. The project includes space for one recovery room, administrative areas, one meeting and training room, as well as a courtyard where educational and training activities will be held.
Rodrigo Vera, SQM’s Vice President of Planning and Projects, said during the ceremony that this initiative “is part of what our Sustainability Plan calls Responsible and Sustainable Mining, not only with the communities, but also with biodiversity. The center will be available for care and rescue during the upcoming season and we hope that there will be as few birds as possible, as we are working to considerably mitigate the impact of our operations on the surrounding ecosystems.”
According to the Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Mining, Wladimir Astudillo: “This is a tremendously positive development for the region. As a government, we are committed to the environment, to the communities and to the flora and fauna. Therefore, we believe that it is an ethical and moral duty to watch over the preservation of species with special attention to protected species such as the black sea swallow.”
Regarding the initiative, Matthias Mohr, CEO of Compañía Minera Cordillera, said: “We have been involved in this effort for a long time. It represents one more step in a long road we have traveled that began in 2018, motivated by Compañía Minera Cordillera’s great commitment to the biodiversity of Tarapacá and mainly to the rescue of the black sea swallow. At CMC we seek to leave a great legacy for future generations and we believe that this initiative is a contribution to our community, which is why we have collaborated on this project and are ready today to begin its construction, for which we have high expectations.”
In turn, Wayanay Foundation executives emphasized: “The main objective for creating this center is to rescue and release species, along with being a platform for integrating the community and the industry and generating a space for interaction between the foundation, the territory and its inhabitants to generate knowledge of the different species of seabirds present in the area and also to carry out tasks like marking, measurement and statistical control.”