International Expert Meeting - Conservation of Wood and Metal Structures in the Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
Situated in one of the driest deserts on Earth at the largest deposit of saltpeter in the world, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005. Thousands of workers lived and worked in this hostile environment from 1880 for over 60 years, forging a distinctive communal pampinos culture and producing the fertilizer sodium nitrate that was to transform agricultural lands in North and South America, and in Europe, and be a source of great wealth for Chile. Because of the vulnerability of the structures, the site was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2005 to help mobilize resources for its conservation.
This project aimed at organizing an international expert meeting, to identify and study factors that are directly involved in the deterioration of materials that make up the structures of the Humberstone and Santa Laura saltpeter works; address mitigation measures and intervention criteria; review the management plan; and provide guidance to develop the desired state of conservation and the corrective measures requested by the World Heritage Committee for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The “International Expert Meeting - Conservation of Wood and Metal Structures in the Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works” took place in October 2012 in Iquique (Chile). Approximately 50 persons were in attendance, among them Chilean and international experts, as well as professionals from different public and private institutions, and the site manager.
The meeting was essential to identifying measures to mitigate decay factors, criteria for conservation and restoration interventions, research applied for conservation programmes and conservation priorities and management issues that had yet to be addressed. The recommendations made have been integrated in the review process of the Management Plan and were considered for the formulation of the Desired State of Conservation for the property.
The final report of the meeting submitted by the State Party highlighted the commitment of Chile to develop public policies and to ensure on-going proper allocation of resources.