Photo: Canada's Barrick Gold fined $15.6M in Chile
Chile’s SMA environmental watchdog said Friday that it had imposed an 8-billion-peso (roughly $16.5-million) fine on Canada’s Barrick Gold and ordered it to halt its Pascua-Lama mine project over environmental violations.
The measures were adopted due to one “very serious” violation and four “serious” violations of Barrick’s environmental permit, granted in 2006.
Pascua-Lama is a gold and silver project located high in the Andes mountains and straddling the Argentine-Chilean border. Barrick Gold is developing the project at an investment cost of $8.5 billion and expects to start production in late 2014.
The SMA says the world’s largest gold miner has not built a system for containing contaminated and non-contaminated wastewater and must do so before excavation activity can begin.
The company also has not adopted temporary remedial, safety and control measures nor delivered information requested by the environmental authority.
In addition to the fine, Barrick was ordered to take urgent steps to correct the violations and halt construction of Pascua-Lama until it has built the wastewater management system to the specifications of its permit.
“It’s important to stress that we’re conducting very thorough audits. In this instance, the company presented a voluntary declaration, which was not accepted because the actions described were not accurate, truthful or verifiable,” Juan Carlos Monckeberg, acting SMA chief, said in announcing the measures.
The company may appeal the fine.
According to Barrick, Pascua-Lama has 18 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves and 676 million ounces of silver contained within the gold reserves.