SANTIAGO Oct 11 A Chilean appeals court has
agreed to examine a fresh appeal against Barrick Gold Corp's
suspended Pascua-Lama gold mine that says the
controversial project is hurting the environment and the quality
of life for the local population.
The country's Supreme Court and environmental regulator have
already frozen construction of the mine due to "significant
environmental harm." The suspension is poised to be lifted once
a water management system is complete.
The local Antofagasta Court of Appeals would look at the new
appeal, a spokesman for Chile's court system said on Friday.
However, it is not yet clear when it might issue a decision
or how it might rule.
Barrick declined to comment. The lawyer who presented the
appeal could not immediately be reached for comment.
The latest action against the roughly $8.5 billion project,
originally forecast to produce 800,000 to 850,000 ounces of gold
per year, comes just weeks after the Supreme Court rejected a
move to strike down the mine's environmental permit.
A group of indigenous Chileans had asked the top court to
rescind Barrick's license, arguing that environmental damage
from the mine, which straddles the Chilean and Argentine border,
warranted a re-evaluation of the project.
Pascua-Lama's supporters say its environmental impact will
be limited, and that the massive mine will provide employment
and help boost copper powerhouse Chile's mining-dependent
Environmental and social groups counter that the mega mining
project will damage pristine glaciers, strain and pollute the
water supply and harm agricultural activity in the area.
Barrick has stopped construction on the project and
submitted a plan for water management infrastructure to the SMA.
The miner said in June that Pascua-Lama, on which it has already
spent $5.4 billion, had been delayed until mid-2016.