Chile court slaps fresh freeze on Barrick's Pascua-Lama

SANTIAGO, July 15 Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:57am EDT

SANTIAGO, July 15 (Reuters) - A Chilean court on Monday issued a fresh suspension of Barrick Gold Corp's $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama gold mine, freezing the Toronto-based miner's controversial project until "environmental standards" are met.

The Copiapo court of appeals had already temporarily frozen construction of the project, which straddles the Chile-Argentine border high in the Andes, in April to weigh claims by the indigenous communities that it has damaged pristine glaciers and harmed water supplies.

Analysts have said Barrick, the world's top gold miner, will likely appeal the sentence to the supreme court, setting the stage for a protracted legal battle in world No. 1 copper producer Chile.

In addition, Chile's environmental regulator has also suspended Pascua-Lama, citing major environmental violations.

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