* Pascua-Lama suspended by Chile court this month
* Barrick said Wednesday it could stop spending on
* Pascua-Lama accused of harming water supply, glaciers
SANTIAGO, April 25 Barrick Gold Corp said on
Thursday the head of its South American operations has resigned,
adding the company is shaking up its troubled Pascua-Lama mine
with the aim of meeting Chilean regulatory requirements to
unfreeze the project.
Argentine Guillermo Calo, who was named Barrick's president
for South America in July, has resigned, the company said.
Robert Mayne-Nicholls, the general director of operations, and
Rodrigo Jimenez, the regional vice-president for corporate
affairs, have also resigned at the unit, Barrick added.
A local court earlier this month suspended construction of
Barrick's up to $8.5 billion investment, which
straddles the border of Chile and Argentina, in a major blow to
the world's top gold miner. The unpopular gold and silver mine
is facing steep legal challenges and potentially the
cancellation of its permit on grounds it destroys pristine
glaciers and harms water supply.
The Toronto-based miner had warned on Wednesday it could
stop spending on Pascua-Lama if the timetable for resolving
regulatory issues remains unclear.
"The company is already taking all the possible steps to
demonstrate its commitment, which includes updating engineering
studies, elaborating performance plans and naming a new
management team," Barrick said in a statement on Thursday.
"Pascua-Lama's main priority is to re-start construction
activity with the approval of Chilean authorities."
The miner faces tough legal obstacles to complete the
project, and even the possibility that its Chilean environmental
permit might be canceled.
Mining industry sources have pointed to poor management of
the tricky, high-altitude project, with one source blasting it
Barrick earlier this month tapped two high-profile mining
executives to work on the project.
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.