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article imageCanadian mining firm faulted for environmental breaches in Chile

By Igor I. Solar     Apr 12, 2013 in Environment
Santiago - The Court of Appeals of Copiapó, Chile, ordered suspension of the operations on the Pascua-Lama mining project in the high Andes due to environmental violations; the Toronto-based mining company Barrick Gold Corporation complied with the order.
The Court of Appeals of Copiapó, a mining city in the Atacama Region of Chile, accepted the petition filed by the lawyer of Diaguita indigenous communities of the Huasco Valley who appealed to the court claiming environmental violations at the Pascua-Lama mining project operated by Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation. The environmental violations have been verified by Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin) and authorities of the Environmental Assessment System.
In an official statement Barrick Gold said: "The Company is suspending construction work on the Chilean side of the Pascua-Lama project while working to address environmental and other regulatory requirements to the satisfaction of Chilean Authorities. In the interim, activities deemed necessary for environmental protection will continue as authorized.
Construction activities in Argentina, where the majority of Pascua-Lama's critical infrastructure is located, including the process plant and tailings storage facility, are not affected. It is too early to assess the impact, if any, on the overall equity of the budget and project schedule.”
The court order requires the complete suspension of works and construction of the project pending a final court decision, except those works which in the opinion of the Superintendent of Environment, are essential to ensure the conditions to prevent further harmful environmental effects.
A few days ago the Commission for Environmental Assessment of the Atacama Region (CEA-
A satellite view of Pascua-Lama project area; the open pit is outlined in red. Several glaciers and ...
A satellite view of Pascua-Lama project area; the open pit is outlined in red. Several glaciers and rivers flowing into Chile and Argentina are likely to be affected by the mining operations.
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Atacama) had imposed a fine of US$ 40.1 million to Barrick for non-delivery of information on the monitoring plan of glaciers and meteorological data in its Pascua-Lama project. The omission constitutes a breach of the conditions, standards and measures set out in the Resolution of Environmental Qualification (RCA) granted to the mining company in 2006.
The fine follows a US$ 120 million fine imposed by CEA-Atacama to Barrick in late February because of irregularities in water sanitation and breach of the glacier monitoring plan at Pascua-Lama.
Pascua-Lama mine has reserves estimated at 18 million ounces of gold, 731 million ounces of silver and 662 million pounds of copper. The deposits are located in the high Andes with 75% of deposits in the Chilean side and 25% on the Argentine side. The method of extraction of gold using cyanide and the possibility of contamination of the water from the glaciers very close to the extraction zone has generated strong opposition to the project by local indigenous communities in Argentina and Chile.
Barrick Gold Corporation with headquarters in Toronto, Canada, is the largest gold mining company in the world. Through subsidiaries located in Australia, Africa, North America and South America, is conducting mining and exploration projects in Papua New Guinea, the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Australia, Peru, Chile, Russia, South Africa, Pakistan, Colombia, Argentina and Tanzania.
The problems facing Barrick Gold in Chile have severely affected the value of its shares. Barrick's stock price has fallen nearly 30 percent in the first months of 2013, while the announcement of the suspension of the operation in Chile on Wednesday April 10, produced an 8.36 percent drop in the value of shares.
Pascua-Lama is an open-pit mining project of gold  silver  copper and other minerals located in the ...
Pascua-Lama is an open-pit mining project of gold, silver, copper and other minerals located in the Andes mountains, in the southern Atacama Desert, over the border between Chile and Argentina.
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