Company Insight

How Enaex is harnessing the power of innovation to decarbonize and produce “fully green” ammonium nitrate

Soledad Bauer Zambrano, Organizational Development and Sustainability Director at Enaex Chile, talks to Mine Magazine about the Three Pillars strategy, and how Enaex is developing green ammonia.

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Enaex recently launched its ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Global Goals for 2050, with gender equality, better working conditions and improving the local ecology as key considerations. Goals include implementing a Scope 1-2-3 emissions approach, focusing on three major areas of decarbonization, as well as Enaex’s unique ‘Three Pillars’ framework. One of Enaex’s high priority targets is to replace fossil-fuels with renewable energy, including producing ‘green’ explosives at their plant in Chile, due to go online in 2025.

Soledad Bauer Zambrano, Organizational Development and Sustainability Director at Enaex Chile

Soledad Bauer Zambrano, Organizational Development and Sustainability Director at Enaex Chile, talks to Mine Magazine about the Three Pillars strategy, and how Enaex is developing green ammonia. She also explains how the mining industry, and Enaex in particular, can reconcile sustainable development and reduce mining's ecological footprint, while continuing to mine for minerals essential for next-gen renewable technologies.

Mine Magazine: Can you outline the key points of Enaex’s ESG objectives?

Soledad Bauer Zambrano: Our purpose is to humanize mining, and everything we do is linked to that purpose. We are talking about taking care of our environment, natural resources, and taking care of our people: both workers and our customers. We are talking about better working conditions on site and being an ethical and transparent company.

Our sustainability strategy is composed of three pillars: environment, social and governance. For environment we have specific goals, for instance, reducing water use in water stress locations and managing hazardous waste.  

On the social pillar we have a global strategy, but each subsidiary can add additional actions. We work on shared value projects within the communities where we have sites, and work on gender equality, including equal pay for equal work, setting goals for each country. We want to achieve a workforce of 30% women by 2030, and we are actively looking for female engineers and operators with training in the communities. 

For the governance pillar, we have our innovation initiatives and transparency in all procedures, ensuring ethical behavior. We also have a powerful safety campaign.

MM: As a mining specialist, what projects are you currently involved in specifically to help with your ESG goals?

SBZ: In terms of sustainable mining innovation, one of our most important projects is ‘green’ explosives. Replacing the use of natural gas in ammonia production with green hydrogen and producing green ammonium nitrate for blasting services. Enaex has used carbon elimination technology on our ammonium nitrate plant in Chile for over 20 years, reducing CO2 by more than one million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is around 90% of our emissions. But now we want to go a step further. 

HyEx is a project that we are developing with other partners to produce green ammonium nitrate, sourcing locally produced ammonia from green hydrogen. With HyEx we take advantage of the Chilean sun in the north, to generate ammonia using renewable energy. Right now, we are at the first phase, but this is something that is going to make our ammonium nitrate green and have a significant impact in our CO2 reduction.

MM: The mining industry is essential as the world moves towards more renewable energy. How can the industry reconcile both mining and sustainable development?

SBZ: The mining industry is inextricably linked with the solutions we need for the future of humanity. OK, maybe today mining is a polluting industry, but there is the challenge. How can we do it better? Because we need these minerals for turbines, electric cars, batteries, etc. A lot of materials used in medical facilities use copper, for instance, as do ‘smart’ technologies. We need to bring added value, such as green explosives, and make our processes more efficient overall, which will have a direct effect on the electricity bill of our customers.

MM: What do you think the next trends in sustainable mining will be, and what role will Enaex play in this future?

SBZ: One thing is to work on decarbonization, and another is the circular economy. I think this is necessary for mining and other industries. Technology too. Robotics, with artificial intelligence that will enable us to go to locations that we are not able to go now, underground, resulting in higher quality positions for workers. Maybe they will be able to work from home, to operate a truck or blasting? When we talk about humanizing mining we are talking about quality of life.  

This is what Enaex cares about.

Contact information

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Tel.: (+56 2) 2837 7600