SANTIAGO Oct 25 A Chilean appeals court has
blocked a recently approved $733 million hydroelectric dam on
environmental grounds, a surprise blow to owners Origin Energy
and global miner Glencore Xstrata PLC.
Opponents of the 640-megawatt Rio Cuervo project planned in
the remote southern Aysen region say it would be built above a
geological fault line and could foment quakes in highly-seismic
The project had received the green light from the SEA
environmental regulator just last month.
The fresh freeze on the complex is another blow for
energy-strapped miners in copper powerhouse Chile, where unclear
rules has allowed environmental and social groups to appeal
against projects even after approval, putting in limbo billions
of dollars of investment.
Lawyers from the environmental prosecutor's office lodged
the appeal, claiming the plant's approval was not legal, and
arguing that the project threatens a local river and poses
Construction will be blocked until the court rules on the
"In Coyhaique the case will be dealt with in about two to
three months," a court source told Reuters. "At this point...the
case will probably arrive at the Supreme Court next year, if
(one or more parties) seek to elevate it."
Australia's Origin Energy, which owns 51 percent of the
project, and Glencore, which has a 49 percent stake, run the
project through their joint venture Energia Austral.
Energia Austral could not immediately be reached for