Environmentally friendly and energy-efficient mining in Colombia and Chile

Project description

Title: Raw materials and Climate Change: Promotion of low-carbon, environmentally sustainable and resource-efficient methods in the production of raw materials
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Country: Colombia and Chile
Lead executing agency: Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development; Chilean Ministry of Energy
Overall term: 2019 to 2022




The raw materials sector is a significant factor in Colombia’s economic development. It makes up around eight per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs around 750,000 people. Crude oil, natural gas and coal are extracted as well as ores and metals to a lesser extent. The raw materials sector is responsible for around 34 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Colombia, which means that fulfilling the ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for climate protection will only be possible by significantly reducing emissions.

According to the current national development plan, the amount of GDP generated by the raw materials sector is set to increase by almost 10 per cent. In the course of this, however, greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced. Environmental needs are to be considered as more significant in the extraction and processing of raw materials.

The raw materials industry in Chile (mainly copper mining) contributes 60 per cent of export revenues and is therefore one of the most important branches of the economy. It makes up 12 per cent of GDP. More than 850,000 jobs depend on this industry. The raw materials industry is also harmful to the environment: Chilean mines consume around a third of all energy produced by the country and pollute the Earth’s atmosphere with more than 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. This is 1.5 times Stuttgart’s emissions


Colombia and Chile are extracting and processing raw materials using less energy or renewable energy and are transporting them using alternative methods. The governments are increasingly using experiences gained in this area to further develop their regulations and strategies and are contributing these in international dialogue and negotiating forums.



Together with partners from the government and the private sector, the project is developing possibilities for reducing environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, specific projects with companies from two to three sectors are being developed, for example, in gold mining, the extraction of iron ore and the extraction of building materials (Colombia), as well as copper mining (Chile).

The ministries as well as the companies are important partners of the project. Moreover, regional and municipal governments have a significant say in the mining of their natural resources. They can profit from this directly through taxes and charges as well as indirectly through the creation of jobs. They are also responsible for ensuring compliance with environmental conditions. Therefore, regional environmental administrations and regional governments as well as municipalities, particularly in Colombia, are important actors on the ground.

The project operates in four fields of activity:

  • specific measures for and examples of environmentally friendly and energy-efficient extraction of raw materials in both countries
  • Improved regulations for less environmental damage in the mining sector in Colombia
  • Increased energy efficiency in the raw materials sector in Chile
  • International networking and dialogue

The project trains and raises awareness among around 900 people so that there is specialist knowledge about the environmentally friendly extraction of raw materials in companies and ministries. This is also to be enshrined in national regulations and strategies. The improvement of Colombian and Chilean regulations on mining will indirectly affect the entire population in both countries: around 67 million people in total.


Additional information