Barrick taps two new execs for troubled Pascua-Lama project

Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:00pm EDT

* Pascua-Lama suspended by Chile court last week
    * Barrick says Pascua-Lama No. 1 global priority
    * Ex heads of Antofagasta, El Morro join project

    SANTIAGO, April 16 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp said on
Tuesday it has tapped two high-profile mining executives to work
on its suspended Pascua-Lama gold and silver mine project as it
seeks to meet Chilean regulatory requirements to re-activate the
project. 
    Industry veteran Marcelo Awad, formerly the head of Chilean
miner Antofagasta Minerals, has been named deputy
director and will be in charge of advising the company on
regulation and government relations. 
    Eduardo Flores, the former general manager of Goldcorp Inc's
 suspended El Morro project, will become Pascua-Lama's
senior vice-president. He will be the company's representative
to local and national authorities, Barrick added in its
statement.
     A Chilean court last week suspended construction of
Barrick's up to $8.5 billion project, which straddles
the border of Chile and Argentina, in a major blow to the
world's top gold miner. The unpopular project is facing steep
legal challenges and potentially the cancellation of its permit
on grounds it destroys pristine glaciers and harms water supply.
    Barrick said on Tuesday the project is its "No.1 global
priority." 
    The announcement of another management shake-up is in line
with the top gold miner's aim of "taking all the necessary steps
to advance in an appropriate fashion on the Chilean side of the
project," it added. Barrick shook up the management team at
Pascua-Lama last year as the project's costs mounted.
    
   
   
    
    Mining experts have flagged poor management of the tricky,
high-altitude project as a key issue, and many are hoping
another change will help turn the project around.
    Awad left Antofagasta Minerals last year. Analysts
speculated at the time the departure was related to Esperanza's
troubled ramp-up, but the company attributed the change to a
shift to a new generation of growth projects that required new
leadership. 
    Awad will report directly to Barrick CEO Jamie Sokalsky, the
company said in its statement. 
    The $3.9 billion El Morro copper-gold mine, where Flores
used to work, saw its environmental permit struck down last year
at the request of an indigenous agricultural community.
 
    Flores was also involved in the Tethyan Copper Co joint
venture between Antofagasta and Barrick, which seeks to develop
a $3.3 billion copper-gold deposit in Pakistan. Development of
the project has been on hold since 2011, when the Baluchistan
government rejected Tethyan's application for a mining license.
    Mega mining and energy investments have suffered major legal
setbacks in top copper producer Chile recently, as environmental
and health concerns grow and gain traction in courts.
 
    Many in the stratified country say the copper boom has not
been fairly shared and has harmed the environment.
A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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