Chilean environmental regulator Superintendence of the Environment (SMA) has formally turned down the environmental permit application for Anglo American’s $3.3bn expansion of the Los Bronces copper mine.

This expansion is aimed at accessing higher-grade ore from the mine’s new underground section and expanding the current open pit within Los Bronces’ operating site.

The latest decision follows an earlier recommendation by the Environmental Assessment Service of Chile (Sea) to reject the environmental permit application for the Los Bronces Integrated Project (LBIP).

The SEA’s recommendation was based on the miner’s inability to completely eliminate doubts regarding the project’s public health risks.

Anglo American said it will work with the SEA and the other regulatory authorities to provide further information or clarity required to ensure the project’s positive impact.

In a press statement, Anglo American said: “Anglo American is examining the details of the RCA and expects to continue following the regulated permitting process in Chile, which includes the potential to request a review by a minister’s committee to evaluate the full breadth of merits of the project.”

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This expansion plan is said to have been designed following ten years of scientific studies and a comprehensive consultation process with local communities as well as relevant authorities.

It will make use of the mine’s existing processing facilities, requires no extra freshwater or tailings storage facilities, and optimises water efficiency.

Anglo American added in the statement: “LBIP represents a multi-billion dollar investment in the future of one of Chile’s largest copper mines and is an example of modern mining where the full range of sustainability considerations have been consulted on and designed in from the outset.”