The Third Chamber of the Supreme Court has called on the administration of Chilean President Gabriel Boric to make the final decision on the project.
Last year, a ruling from a lower court was appealed by environmentalists and surrounding communities. The ruling overturned a decision by a regulator that declined permits to the firm.
In its latest ruling, the court said that it rejected the appeals as it ‘determined that there is no final judgment that can be reviewed by this court’.
It noted that the final decision on the project’s environmental evaluation is ‘pending a resolution from the administrative authority’.
The project, despite being endorsed by an environmental evaluation commission in 2021, has been facing delays due to opposition from environmental and social groups over its potential environmental damage in the region.
Environmental group OceanaChile said the project could affect the Humboldt archipelago off Chile’s coast. This would jeopardise the region’s species and biodiversity.
OceanaChile said in a tweet: “Our trust is in that the Committee of Ministers will consider all the scientific information that backs why Dominga is unviable and the Humboldt archipelago must be protected permanently.”
Welcoming the court’s decision, Andes Iron said that ‘every time the Dominga project has undergone technical evaluations, we have received favourable pronouncements’.
Expected to create 10,000 direct and 25,000 indirect construction jobs, the Dominga project will include two open-pit mines in the La Higuera Communez.
Over an estimated operational life of 22 years, the project is expected to produce up to 12 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of iron concentrate and 150,000tpa of copper.