Chile charges Lumina Caserones copper mine with using too much water

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s environmental regulator on Tuesday said it had filed charges against Lumina Copper for infractions related to over-extraction of water from wells feeding its Caserones copper mine.

The environmental watchdog, known locally as the SMA, said in a statement that it presented 18 charges related to the mining company’s operations, controlled in a partnership of JX Holding and Mitsui Mining.

Eleven of the infractions are considered serious and could put at risk the mine’s operations, the SMA said.

The regulator said it opened the sanctioning process after receiving allegations of non-compliance from unnamed complainants that included the alleged overconsumption of well water and the unauthorized construction of new wells.

Lumina Copper faces either the revocation of its environmental permits, the temporary closure of the operations at Caserones or a fine of up to $54 million US (approximately $36m pesos), the regulator said.

The company has 10 business days to file a compliance plan or 15 business days to rebut the charges, the defense.

Caserones produced 136,500 tons of copper in 2018.

Reporting by Marion Giraldo; writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by David Gregorio