Plans by Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX) to revive its Pascua Lama gold, silver and copper project straddling the border between Chile and Argentina may once again be postponed after Chile’s Supreme Court revoked this week a temporary closure permit granted by the country’s mining regulator Sernageomin in 2015.
Such decision sought to relax certain requirements for Barrick to obtain a new environmental licence for the project, which the top court qualified as an irresponsible measure.
“It authorizes the temporary closure of Pascua-Lama mining operations, without having the necessary measures in place to ensure the physical and chemical stability of the water sources affected by the project,” the judge said according to local paper Diario Financiero (in Spanish). “[Sernageomin also failed to previously determine] the extent of the damage caused by the project through its innumerable environmental violations,” it added.
The regulator will have now to issue a new closure plan that includes comments from other government offices including the environmental watchdog (SMA), which is expected to rule on two pending cases against the Canadian miner by mid-year.
The giant project in the Andes has been shuttered since 2013, when a court ordered the company to halt construction over environmental concerns. Later that year, Barrick shelved the project citing massive cost overruns and nose-diving metal prices.
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