Mining machinery and barrels with chemicals sit on the facilities of Barrick Gold Corp’s Pascua-Lama project in northern Chile, Thursday, May 23, 2013. Chile’s environmental regulator has stopped construction and imposed sanctions on Barrick Gold Corp.’s $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama project, citing “serious violations” of its environmental permit. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
VALLENAR, Chile (AP) — Chile’s environmental regulator blocked Barrick Gold Corp.’s $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama project on Friday and imposed its maximum fine on the world’s largest gold miner, citing “very serious” violations of its environmental permit as well as a failure by the company to accurately describe what it had done wrong.
After a four-month investigation, the Environmental Superintendent said all other construction work on Pascua-Lama must stop until Barrick builds the systems it promised to put in place beforehand for containing contaminated water.
The fines add up to 8 billion pesos — about $16 million — the highest possible under Chilean law.
Chile’s regulator noted that while Barrick itself reported failures, a separate and intensive investigation already begun by the agency’s own inspectors found that the company wasn’t telling the full truth.
“We found that the acts described weren’t correct, truthful or provable. And there were other failures of Pascua Lama’s environmental permit as well,” said the superintendent, Juan Carlos Monckeberg. “This the first sanction taken by this superintendency and it is the biggest one taken in the environmental history of this country.”
Barrick said it accepts all aspects of the resolution.
“We deeply regret that Pascua Lama has suffered inconveniences in its construction and we’ll do our best efforts to straighten the road ahead and meet the conditions stipulated in the approved project,” said Eduardo Flores Zelaya, president of Barrick South Login to read more