Barrick Studies Impact of Chile’s Pascua-Lama Closure Order – by Danielle Bochove and Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – January 18, 2018)

Barrick Gold Corp. is analyzing revised sanctions on its Pascua-Lama project on the Chile-Argentine border after Chile’s environmental agency reduced a fine but imposed new conditions, including the definitive closure of the original project site.

Construction of the open-pit mine was halted by a Chilean court in April 2013. A month later, Chile’s environmental agency, known as SMA, fined the company and ordered it to take steps to safeguard water supplies.

The fine was the maximum the SMA could hand down and Barrick was able to cut it to about $16 million by paying within five days. Activists protested, calling for a higher penalty, and SMA was told to recalculate the fine.

The SMA will reduce that fine to $11.5 million and ordered additional environmental monitoring. Pascua-Lama had been operating under a temporary closure plan in Chile.

“Given the nature and the size of the breaches that the company committed, there is the conviction that total and definitive closure, plus an economic fine, is the most proportional sanction in this case,” SMA head Cristian Franz said in a statement.

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