Chile Fines Barrick, Halts Construction at Pascua-Lama

Chilean environmental authority Super-intendencia del Medio Ambiente (SMA) announced on May 24 that it was fining Barrick Gold about $16 million for viola-tions of Chilean environmental regulations at the company’s cross-border Chile/ Argentina Pascua-Lama gold-silver project and ordered a halt to construction in Chile until all requirements of the project’s envi-ronmental permit are satisfied. The fine was the maximum permitted under Chilean law.

Barrick had previously announced on April 10 that it had suspended construc-tion on the Chilean side of Pascua-Lama while it addressed environmental and other regulatory requirements to the satisfaction of Chilean authorities (E&MJ, May 2013, p. 14). The SMA resolution does not apply to project development activity on the Argentinian side of the border.

Wastewater management, downstream water contamination and environmental reporting were key issues in the SMA resolution. Construction at the project can-not resume until Barrick has built a waste-water management system to the specifications of its permit.

The May 24 SMA announcement cited five specific violations of environmental re-quirements at Pascua-Lama. The announce-ment also stated that Barrick had reported some of its environmental failures but that investigation by the agency’s inspectors found that Barrick’s disclosures were not entirely correct, truthful or verifiable.

Barrick acknowledged receipt of the SMA resolution, reported that it was review-ing the resolution in detail, and said it was fully committed to complying with all aspects of the resolution and to operating at the highest environmental standards.

As featured in Womp 2013 Vol 06 -