SANTIAGO – Canadian mining company Barrick Gold said Monday it remains focused on resolving legal and environmental issues of its controversial Pascua-Lama gold project in Chile after the country’s highest court ordered an environmental tribunal to review the case.
The project of about US$8,500 million is paralyzed by environmental breaches, which after years led the mining company to freeze it amid rising costs and questions from its shareholders.
Last week, the Supreme Court overturned a decision of the Antofagasta Environmental Court in October for procedural reasons and returned the case for evaluation by a different panel of judges, a process that could last several months, according to the company.
The maximum court “did not review the merits of the SMA (Superintendency of the Environment) closing orders of January 2018 that remain in effect and are subject to Barrick’s appeal,” the company said in a statement.
Barrick CEO Mark Bristow added that the ruling was not useful because it delayed a decision on the future of the Pascua-Lama project and the company “remains focused on resolving the project’s legal and environmental problems.”
The environmental court had ordered the final closure of Pascua-Lama at the request of the regulator due to serious breaches in the development of the initiative.
Environmental organizations and local communities reject the project because it considers that the availability of water in the area decreases and has had an impact on nearby glaciers.