SQM awarded environmental certificate for Chile lithium mine

SQM, a major lithium producer, has announced that its operations in the Salar de Atacama salt flat in Chile have received IRMA (Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance) certification. This certification measures the environmental and social performance of mine sites based on rigorous standards set by the IRMA.

SQM achieved a score of 75 out of a possible 100 on the IRMA scale, indicating strong performance in various areas. However, it received low marks for its security arrangements and emergency preparedness. On the positive side, the company received high marks for its respect for biodiversity, fair labor standards, and noise mitigation.

This certification makes SQM the second company in Chile to achieve IRMA certification, following Albemarle, another major lithium producer. Albemarle received a slightly lower overall ranking of 50, with low marks in areas like community health and safety but high marks for greenhouse gas emissions abatement, among other factors.

IRMA provides third-party verification and certification of mining practices to protect human rights, communities, and the environment along the supply chain. Companies like Ford and BMW have joined the initiative, and it is favored by many electric vehicle manufacturers to ensure responsible sourcing of critical battery materials.

SQM’s CEO, Ricardo Ramos, expressed the company’s commitment to transparency and improvement by sharing the results of the audit. IRMA certification is significant in the lithium industry as it demonstrates responsible mining practices, which are increasingly important as demand for lithium, a key component in electric vehicle batteries, continues to grow.

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