LOCAL opposition to Barrick Gold’s massive Pascua-Lama gold and silver mine in Chile has prompted the Copiapo appeals court to suspend construction on the project while complaints are addressed.
The project, on the Chile-Argentina border in the Andes Mountains, has attracted complaints of “environmental irregularities” from the country’s Diaguita indigenous communities and various environmental groups, who claim it is destroying glaciers and harming the local water supply.
Barrick reported it would suspend activities while it worked to “address environmental and regulatory requirements to the satisfaction of Chilean authorities”.
The company stated that construction activities in Argentina, where the majority of the project’s critical infrastructure is located – including the process plant and tailings storage facility – would not be affected.
Barrick said it was too early to assess the injunction’s impact on the project’s overall capital budget and schedule.
However, with 80 per cent of the metal reserves on the Chilean side of the project, a lengthy court battle could prove costly.
Pascua-Lama is expected to cost between $8 billion and $8.5 billion, and produce between 800,000 ounces and 850,000oz of gold and 35 million ounces of silver in its first five years of production.
Following suspension of operations, shares in Barrick neared a four-and-a-half year low on both the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.