September 17, 2015 / 3:19 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Argentina suspends gold leaching at Barrick mine after cyanide leak

(Adds company comment)

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 17 (Reuters) - An Argentine judge on Thursday said he ordered a five-day suspension of the gold leaching process at Barrick Gold Corp’s Veladero mine to check if there was any environmental damage from a cyanide leak triggered by a faulty valve.

“We have decided on this cautionary measure suspending the process of lixiviation for five days,” Pablo Oritja, a judge in the western province of San Juan told Reuters on Thursday.

A Barrick spokesman said that at this time, there was no material impact to production to report.

Oritja said the measure was to ensure that production at Veladero, one of the largest gold mines in Argentina, was safe.

Barrick’s Argentine unit said on Wednesday that it had detected no contamination in surrounding rivers since the leak happened over the weekend.

The company said the faulty valve had been replaced and there had been no threat to the health of its workers or the local community. Nonetheless it had launched an investigation to determine the root cause of the valve failure and was monitoring the quality of water in the area. (Reporting by Juliana Castilla in Buenos Aires; Additional Reporting by Susan Taylor in Toronto; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by W Simon and Christian Plumb)

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