Chile regulator draws up charges against Antofagasta's Los Pelambres mine

A view of a miners' camp inside Antofagasta's Los Pelambres mine near Los Caimanes town, Chile, January 27, 2007. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Caballero/File Photo

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s environmental regulator on Thursday drew up various charges against the Los Pelambres copper mine for mismanaging water resources and nearby flora, charges which could lead to stiff fines or even closure.

“In all, nine charges have been brought for detected non-compliance relating to its RCA (environmental permit),” the regulatory body SMA said in a statement.

Of the nine alleged violations at Los Pelambres, controlled by Antofagasta Minerals, five were considered serious and four minor, according to the SMA.

The infractions included the extraction of water from unauthorized locations, the construction of unauthorized wells and the failure to reforest some zones as required by law.

Antofagasta could not be immediately reached for comment.

Los Pelambres has 10 days to present a compliance plan to the SMA or 15 days to present a defense. The punishment for the alleged infractions could be a fine of $23.8 million or the temporary or indefinite closure of the mine, the SMA said.

In 2013, the SMA initiated a separate regulatory proceeding against Los Pelambres for mismanaging archeological sites.

Los Pelambres, located in Chile’s north-central Coquimbo region, produced 375,800 tonnes of copper in 2015.

Reporting by Antonio de la Jara, Gram Slattery, editing by G Crosse