Chile’s Environmental Court has rejected claims that Barrick Gold’s Pascua-Lama project has damaged glaciers in the complex’s area of influence.
Pascua-Lama is a $8.5bn development located in the Andes Mountains, on the Chilean-Argentine border.
The Chilean court ruled in favour of Barrick Gold after hearing a lawsuit filed by a group of farming communities in the Alto del Carmen area, Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales (OLCA).
The groups claimed that the mining plan would damage glaciers in the area, which could affect the flow of El Toro river.
Barrick Gold executive director for Chile Eduardo Flores said: "Preserving and protecting glaciers from harm is essential to the work we do every day at Pascua-Lama.
"That is why Barrick worked with leading independent experts and glaciologists to develop and implement one of the most rigorous glacier monitoring programmes anywhere in the world."
The company claimed that comprehensive glacier monitoring programme of Pascua-Lama captures data from 27 points and provides results directly to regulatory authorities.
By working with stakeholders and local communities in Chile, Barrick plans to advance Pascua-Lama in an environmentally responsible manner.
Pascua-Lama’s team has completed a new execution plan to optimise the remaining construction activities and minimising ongoing project costs.
Due to its proximity to glaciers, Pascua-Lama previously caused controversy and public protests in Chile, with petitions being presented to the Chilean Government not to approve the project.
Recently, the company and its subsidiary Barrick Niugini received a position statement from the Justice Foundation for Porgera (JFP) outlining losses that have occured as a result of social, economic and environmental damages caused by the company’s Porgera gold mine.
JFP, an entity that represents landowners in the Porgera region in north-western Papua New Guinea (PNG), is seeking billions of dollars in compensation on behalf of landowners from Barrick Niugini through the claims set out in the statement.
Image: Satellite view of Pascua-Lama project area. Photo: courtesy of Earthsound.