top of page

Why Hydrogen in Chilean mining?

The proximity of resources and demand, industry scale, and potential to reduce social and environmental impacts position Green Hydrogen as pivotal for a sustainable future.


Internationally, Chile stands out as a global leader in copper production, accounting for 26% of global production, with 54% located in the Antofagasta Region.

Mineral products constitute 55% of the country's total exports, and over 90% of these mining exports correspond to copper.

Therefore, dynamics in copper demand and prices in international markets directly impact the country's exchange rate, exerting downward pressure during mineral boom periods and vice versa.


The copper industry is the largest energy consumer in the country, responsible for 33% of Chile's total CO2 emissions. Over the past 20 years, the aging of mines, continuous degradation of copper grades, and increasing use of desalinated water have doubled energy intensity. Currently, mining energy consumption accounts for 7% of the country's total, 33% of its electricity consumption, and 19% of the total diesel demand. This energy usage from fossil fuels generates significant social and environmental impacts. A clear example is the discontent expressed by communities near smelters, leading to closures, as seen in Ventanas and Paipote.

The consequences of not implementing urgent measures to reduce the impacts of copper mining in Chile could significantly affect the country's economic competitiveness compared to other markets.

  1. International Competitiveness: Failing to address environmental impacts, particularly carbon emissions, could diminish Chile's competitiveness in global markets. With increasingly stringent international environmental standards and growing societal pressures for sustainable practices, Chilean products may face higher trade barriers or negative perceptions internationally.

  2. Rising Costs: Climate change and declining ore grades are driving up production costs in the copper mining industry. This translates into higher investments needed to maintain or improve social and environmental standards, potentially increasing operational costs and reducing profitability.

  3. Sustainable Investments: Achieving sustainable mining practices in the long term requires substantial investments in technologies and practices that mitigate environmental impacts and enhance social conditions. This includes implementing clean technologies and adopting policies that promote corporate social responsibility and engage with affected communities.


Mining and mineral processing sites are ideal for hydrogen production, as resources (solar energy, electricity, water, and infrastructure) and demand (trucks, energy storage, and fuels) are co-located.

In this scenario, where green hydrogen production is for local demand, it would serve a very effective function, as it would not involve transportation costs and could significantly mitigate Scope 3 emissions. These emissions account for 50% of the CO2 generated by the industry, arising from copper smelting, grinding balls, and transportation, among other sources.

A clear example of where hydrogen would be the best solution is in hydrogen-powered truck transportation between mining operations and ports. In routes with extreme conditions, the autonomy, efficiency, power, and recharge times make electric trucks a less viable solution.

Furthermore, renewable hydrogen production requires less than 1% of a mining site's water demand, making this consumption quite marginal. On the other hand, desalination and hydrogen production via electrolysis form a natural alliance, as desalinated water is also essential for other mining processes and drinking water supply.

Is green hydrogen competitive compared to other fuels?

"In Punta El Monte, we believe that the key to achieving competitiveness lies in developing a comprehensive model that orchestrates different components of the hydrogen value chain.

Our approach aims to create synergies between diversified suppliers and consumers. This includes the use of unconventional renewable energies (ERNC) without surcharges, at competitive prices, and collaboration with an electrolyzer supplier involved from the outset of the project, optimizing the plant according to expected operation, alongside various end consumers (off-takers)."

Tomás Ecclefield,

Co-founder of Punta El Monte

Punta El Monte has integrated copper concentrate transport companies and storage warehouses, where the use of hydrogen in forklifts and payloaders has been proven, and is conducting thorough analysis of hydrogen use in smelters, among other areas. When all these factors are coordinated effectively, competitiveness against diesel can be achieved. Another significant opportunity presented by this model is the substantial amount of data it will generate, enabling the creation of predictive models to further optimize costs and reduce emissions.



bottom of page