Chilean environmental regulator Superintendence for the Environment (SMA) is re-evaluating penalties on Barrick Gold‘s Pascua-Lama project located on the border of Chile and Argentina in the Frontera district.
Reuters cited SMA head Cristian Franz in an interview published in Diario Financiero as saying that: "The new sanction can fall anywhere on the spectrum allowed by the law, which goes from a warning to revoking the environmental permit, including fines."
In May 2013, SMA fined the Canadian mining company $16m for not complying with some of the country’s environmental requirements at Pascua-Lama gold and silver project.
During that time, the Supreme Court refused to hear Barrick’s appeal when the country’s Environment Court found the fines were not well determined.
This prompted SMA to re-evaluate the penalties that had been previously imposed.
In October 2013, the company invested more than $5bn on the development of the Pascua-Lama project and later temporarily suspended its development.
The ramp-down process is said to have been completed on schedule and to budget, and the project is now under care and maintenance.
Open pit, multi-mineral mining project Pascua-Lama is located in the Andes mountains in the southern reaches of Atacama Desert, straddling the border between Chile and Argentina at an altitude of more than 4,500m.
As per the 31 December 2013 estimate, the project had more than 15 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves, and 675 million ounces of silver contained within the gold reserves.
Image: A satellite view of the project area showing the Pascua-Lama open pit. Photo: courtesy of Earthsound.