The aim of the project is to support the development of solutions to address the challenge of water scarcity in Chile and contribute to the sustainability agenda of the mining industry.

The first year of the project involved data collection, stakeholder engagement and initial tool development in the project case study, the Atacama region. The first-year report and video outlining the background, methodology and initial results are now available.

Water scarcity is one of the greatest threats to social and economic development in many of Chile’s central and northern regions. Low water availability, inadequate water management and the effects of climate change are leading to prolonged droughts that are generating adverse consequences for society.

The mining industry in Chile and some other sectors have invested heavily in the use of desalinated seawater to develop reliable supply systems. While effective in providing reliable water, such systems are often developed independently and tend to be expensive, energy intensive and can result in socio-environmental impacts.

There is a need for improved water supply systems that integrate multiple sources and users, and allow the optimisation of resources based on local geography, water availability and water demand, ensuring water security for users and the protection of local ecosystems.

The University of Queensland’s SMI-ICE-Chile and Sustainable Minerals Institute, along with M.C. Inversiones (a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation), decided to partner on the three-year research project to develop smart water supply planning tools that will help decision makers at all levels to identify and analyse optimised water supply options.

The team includes collaborators from the Universidad de Antofagasta, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad del Desarrollo.

The project leaders would like to thank M.C. Inversiones for their support of the project, Corfo and ANID for their support of the International Centre of Excellence in Chile, and our project collaborators.

If you would like more information, please contact the Project Leader, Dr Doug Aitken at


Read the first year project report HERE.

Watch the first year project video: