Chile’s last coal mine facing permanent closure


The legal battle over Invierno Mine comes amid a national debate about how much longer Chile should burn coal for electric-power generation. (Photo by Gregor Stipicic)

Shipments of the remaining coal from what until recently was Chile’s last functioning coal mine were set to take place this month following court rulings that have effectively shut down production since May of 2019. The Invierno Mine company, long a target of environmental opposition, is located on Riesco Island, near the country’s southern tip. For six years, it has helped supply the coal used to generate Chile’s electricity, some 40% of which comes from coal-fired plants. In 2018, it accounted for over 17% of the 13.4 million metric tons of the fuel burned by Chile’s 26 coal power stations, with the rest imported. But litigation launched by green advocacy groups prompted an environmental tribunal in the central Chilean city of Valdivia to prohibit the company from using explosives to facilitate coal extraction. The decision, handed down last August, confirmed a preliminary ruling issued by the same court the... [Log in to read more]

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