Minera Escondida recently announced the permanent cessation of the extraction of water for operational purposes from the Salar de Punta Negra salt flat in Antofagasta. Escondida halted water extraction from Punta Negra as part of plans to reduce water consumption. According to an official from Escondida’s parent company, BHP, earlier this year, the company set a long-term hydrologic strategy based on gradually reducing the use of aquiferous natural reservoirs, increasing process water recovery and maximizing the use of desalted seawater.

“This milestone is a breakthrough in the company’s long-term water strategy,” the company said in a statement. “It gradually decreases the use of aquifer water, increases process water recovery and maximizes the use of desalinated seawater.”

The company started planning this strategy after an accusation was made by local environmentalists in February and September of last year to the Antofagasta’s Superintendency of the Environment by the Agrupación en Defensa del Salar de Punta Negra, the Salar de Punta Negra Defense Group, which is a group of people from local surrounding communities.

Minera Escondida is a mining company that operates two open-pit copper mines in the Atacama Desert, 170 kilometers southeast of Antofagasta in northern Chile.