The Supreme Court of Chile has endorsed the closure of the $8.5bn Pascua Lama gold and copper mining project, owned by Barrick Gold’s Chilean subsidiary Compañía Minera Nevada SpA (CMN).

Located in the Andes Mountains, on the Chilean-Argentine border, the Pascua-Lama project had been put on hold since 2013 owing to environmental concerns.

The High Court’s ruling rejected the appeals filed against the First Environmental Court’s judgment made in September 2020 to permanently shutter the mine.

The company faced 33 charges linked to flora, fauna, human environment, water quality, and glaciers, among others.

This latest ruling confirms the legality of the final closure sanction for the mine and a series of fines applied to the mining project by Chilean environmental regulator Superintendence of the Environment (SMA).

The Superintendent of the Environment Emanuel Ibarra said: “The ruling of the Supreme Court, together with supporting our investigation, also ratifies the sentence of the First Environmental Court, which confirmed the definitive closure sanction of the Pascua Lama project issued by this Superintendency, as well as a series of fines that were applied.

“With this sentence, the SMA must, first of all, continue to monitor compliance with the closure sanction, for which there is an informed closure schedule, whose compliance will be monitored in its various stages, understanding that it is an extensive process, that even requires a new admission to environmental evaluation, and procedures before the Sernageomin.”

The project has been facing strong opposition from environmental organisations citing the reduced water availability in the area and affected nearby glaciers.