SANTIAGO Nov 4 An indigenous community opposed
to Goldcorp's copper and gold El Morro mine in northern
Chile is poised to present at least one new legal action against
the project this month, the group's lawyer told Reuters on
The $3.9 billion mine was given the green light again last
month, after Chile's Supreme Court froze its environmental
permit last year until the company fully consulted the local
The Diaguita say the consultation, based on an International
Labor Organization convention, wasn't properly conducted. The
roughly 260 families involved in the case are also upset the
mine is planned on what they deem their sacred ancestral land
and fear the mine could pollute a local river.
"We could end up focused on one, or two or three (legal
actions)," said Nancy Yanez, a lawyer with human rights NGO
Observatorio Ciudadano. "In any case... it will be within the
next few weeks," she added. She declined to give further details
on what legal actions the group is mulling.
Goldcorp did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The company has said it continues "community engagement" and is
committed to partnership with indigenous groups.
El Morro, 70 percent owned by Goldcorp and 30 percent by New
Gold, had been due to begin operations in 2017.
It is one of several mining and power projects that have
suffered setbacks in world No.1 copper producer Chile, where
environmental and indigenous groups are increasingly taking
their complaints to court.
Chile is heavily dependent on mining, with copper accounting
for roughly 60 percent of export revenue. Many in the Andean
country say they haven't benefited from the spoils of the copper
boom and feel mining has harmed the environment.
One of the most emblematic cases is fellow Canadian miner
Barrick Gold Corp's Pascua-Lama mine, which straddles
the border with Argentina and is close to where El Morro is
planned. Barrick said last week it was shelving the
controversial gold project indefinitely.
Both Chile's supreme court and the new environmental
regulator suspended the project earlier this year on
An indigenous community had also led the opposition to
Pascua-Lama, and Barrick's decision may galvanize environmental
opposition to such projects.
"El Morro is the same as Pascua-Lama. What you have is a
decision by authorities to go against fundamental indigenous
rights... and give the green light to a project without having
the environmental and social safeguards necessary to having good
mining practices in Chile," Yanez said.