The miner’s waters may end up limiting the use and enjoyment of their rights – Awdhesh

Admin

Reform to the water code includes more normative elements to understand water as a limited resource, with respect to which its use must be prioritized.

By Jose Ignacio Benavente

Santiago de Chile.- In the recent update of the Water Code, an additional requirement is added to the mining concessionaire for its use, which is the obligation to report the characteristics of the water to the General Directorate of Water, within ninety calendar days from its discovery. This law incorporates a cause of extension to the use and enjoyment of these waters due to “the closure of the mining site, due to the expiration or termination of the mining concession, because they are no longer necessary for that site or because they are destined for a different use.” ; and grants the power to limit rights if their use and enjoyment endanger the sustainability of aquifers or the rights of third parties. So, what could it mean for mining production that now the DGA must be informed about the use of an aquifer?

In theory, if the objective of the reform is achieved, the DGA will be able to take measures to limit the uses for endangering the aquifers or the rights of third parties since it will have detailed information on the situation of these waters, applying both for new discoveries and retroactively. The problem arises for those mining companies that do not have other use rights other than those that are recognized by the finding in their works or do not have water supply alternatives or do not take efficiency measures in their processes, with which their production can be affected if the DGA limits the use due to the affectation of the respective aquifer.

This new capacity of the DGA affects the public and private sectors alike, without distinction of minerals. This reform includes more normative elements to understand water as a limited resource, with respect to which its use must be prioritized. At this point, the miners must bear in mind that they have placed demands on them that may end up limiting the use and enjoyment of their rights. We must not lose sight of the fact that the mining industry is concentrated in the northern part of our country, where the phenomena of water scarcity and drought are strongly manifested. All in all, the challenge of adapting to the new rules will be transversal to all the actors, including agribusiness as the main user of consumptive waters in Chile and especially for the DGA, since it will be in charge of supervising compliance.

José Ignacio Benavente is a specialist in Corporate, Real Estate and Water Law at Arteaga Gorziglia

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