Chile top court confirms block on Barrick mine

Natural Disasters Posted on

Chile's Supreme Court confirmed on Wednesday the suspension of Barrick Gold Corp.'s Pascua-Lama gold mine straddling the border with Argentina, but the court stopped short of ordering a re-evaluation of the environmental permit for the $8.5 billion project high in the Andes.

An indigenous community living below the mine had asked the Supreme Court to revoke Barrick's license and require the world's largest gold-mining company to prepare a new environmental impact study.

The Diaguita Indians, who accuse Barrick of contaminating their water downstream, earlier won an appellate ruling that ordered a freeze on construction of the project until the Toronto-based company builds infrastructure to prevent water pollution.

But they wanted to go further and had appealed that ruling from the court in the northern city of Copiapo in hopes of forcing Barrick to apply for a new permit that takes into account their anthropological and cultural claims to the watershed below the mine.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled the measures issued by the Copiapo Court "are sufficient to protect the constitutional guarantees that have been denounced as violated." The court also ordered "a suspension of the Pascua-Lama mining project" until environmental commitments and all works to protect the water systems are adopted.

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