Forecast for water consumption in the copper mining industry, 2018-2029


  • C. Montes



This study seeks to forecast demand for continental water and seawater in the copper mining industry, analyzing it in detail by region, process, stage of advance, condition and the status of projects environmental permits. The key input for forecasting the industry’s water consumption is the expected level of copper production which determines the amount of mineral processed and output of fine copper in the form of concentrate and SX-EW cathodes between 2018 and 2029. It is important to note that Chile’s copper production matrix is expected to change over the coming years, shifting towards sulfide mineral whose treatment involves the water-intensive flotation process.
According to the results obtained using the Monte Carlo method, the industry’s consumption of continental water would reach 14.53 m3/sec in 2029. Seawater would then account for 43% of the water used in copper mining, reflecting the fact that ever more mining companies are building their own desalination plants or using seawater directly, insofar as this is technically and economically feasible. By 2029, the industry’s seawater consumption is, therefore, forecast to reach 10.82 m3/sec, up by 230% on its expected level in 2018.