The report submitted by the Comisión de Monumentos Nacionales (National Monuments Commission - CNM) of Chile, the national authority responsible for the state of conservation of the property, responds to the general situation of the property, analysed by the World Heritage Committee in July 2006, and the following aspects stand out:
a) The State Party is commited to find the necessary resources to carry out the consolidation work for the 30 identified main projects in the Programme of High Priority Interventions for structural consolidation work, particularly on the industrial buildings, at an estimated overall cost of USD 700,000. The approved 2007 budget will allow to start the work, tentatively in April 2007, with a budget of USD 93,000. It was however stated that the timescale for completion might have to be extended to 2009.
b) Counting of visitors has been carried out and maintained on the basis of figures from the previous years: in 2005, 49,253 visitors and in 2006, 49,948 visited the property.
c) The struggle against the dismantling and theft of materials is continuing. People found guilty of stealing materials have been sentenced to prison terms, within the framework of a new legal system implemented throughout the country from 2005, and conforming to provisions introduced within the legislation concerning national monuments during the same year. The application of these measures has intensified and made the sanctions related to offences against cultural heritage more effective (Law N° 20.021, 14 July 2005).
d) Information was given relating to the restoration of urban buildings such as the hotel, the school and the town theatre. The formulation of restoration projects for both buildings is in an advanced phase, and both rely on funding from private sources.
e) Concerning the implementation of the Management Plan, the improvement of the legal framework, administrative procedures and the core principles of the plans have started. An architect and an industrial civil engineer were appointed. Following discussions by the stakeholders, it was decided to convene a meeting in April 2007 to revise the Management Plan, in order to incorporate, by consensus, the vision and the experience of the administrators of the site during their term of office, from 2004 to the present day.
f) The State Party stated that the celebration of “Saltpeter Week” in November every year brings together numerous ‘pampinos’ – inhabitants of the zone with a distinct bond with the property. It has great significance and strengthens the understanding of the property as a living heritage. However, this major gathering exerts a great pressure on the site. In this regard, the experience of the Saltpeter Week 2006 has progressively improved, and it is an essential issue to be addressed during the April 2007 meeting.
g) Cleaning of the site has continued, as has research and the study of the industrial material stocked away as waste, which has been carried out with great care. This has allowed a better understanding of the industrial process of the extraction of saltpeter providing information that will benefit the museum of the property. A positive and enriching intervention was the installation of original rolling stock on the railways that used to transport nitrate.
h) Concerning urban regulations, the Regulatory Plan of the town of Pozo Almonte, where the Humberstone and Santa Laura saltpeter offices are located, has recently been modified and the amendment has officially stipulated the obligation to come up with a specific regulation instrument for the buffer zone.
The report did not contain official information concerning finding an alternate route for the proposed road A-16 that goes trough the protected area.The World Heritage Centre has not received either detailed information concerning restoration works carried out during 2006 with the collaboration of private donors.
Members of the World Heritage Centre visited the site with the representatives of the Saltpeter Museum Corporation, representatives of the National Monuments Council and of the Public Work Ministry on 19 and 20 March 2007. As a result of the visit and in collaboration with the national experts, the following recommendations were formulated:
a) The staff responsible for the site is not multidisciplinary enough in their approach to be able to implement the next stages of the Management Plan until 2009;
b) No significant progress has been made in the prioritised intervention plan for the urgent consolidation of the industrial buildings;
c) Regarding the industrial buildings, a more comprehensive study of potential structural risks is highly recommended. This should be accompanied with a study on the typology of structures and the use of local construction materials such as stucco pampino and the development of some applied research on the deterioration of materials such as wood, stucco, metal cladding and timber. The results of these studies should serve as a baseline to complete the conservation plan for the industrial and urban buildings.
d) According to Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and because of the extremely fragile nature of the buildings and their singularity, the foreseen interventions within the High Priority Structural Consolidation Programme should be examined by ICOMOS.
e) A mechanism for improving co-operation through the exchange of information between local/regional and national authorities and technical decision making processes for the implementation of the Management Plan is urgently needed.
f) In spite of the overall confidence in the capacity for tourist development to help sustain the property, stronger co-operation with universities, applied research centres, industrial companies, and national corporations such as FOCI (Fondo de Solidaridad e Inversión social), FONDART (Fondo del Desarrollo de las Artes), CONICIT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología), CORFU (Corporación de Fomento) and the Regional Government of Tarapacá, is needed.
g) On the occasion of the meeting that will take place in April 2007, it is highly recommended that a wider group of partners should be involved in the implementation of the Management Plan to discuss more proactive social participation by the local and regional population and to take advantage of this workshop to plan any future transversal local alliances and to contribute to the protection of the property.
h) Archaeological survey and, where necessary, scientific excavation should be undertaken in some areas when the process of ordering and cleaning deposits of industrial materials is not superficial.