Chile's environmental regulator has filed charges against Canada-based Lundin Mining over allegations of environmental breaches at its Candelaria copper mine.
During its routine inspections carried out at the mine in the Atacama Region in 2013 and 2014, the Superintendence for the Environment (SMA) found 16 environmental irregularities at the mine.
Nine of them have been listed by the regulator as 'serious'.
Reuters quoted SMA saying: "The most important infraction detected by the investigation is related to the failure to fulfill the commitment of reducing the consumption of freshwater... leading to an important loss in the availability of underground water at Copiapo river's aquifer."
Lundin Mining has been given ten days by the regulator to present a compliance plan or it can appeal the charges within 15 days.
Based on the mine's first quarter 31 March 2015 update, it is evident that it has applied for an extension of mining licenses until 2030 to the mining authorities in Chile.
The mine also applied for a project to construct a new tailings management facility on which construction is expected to start in the third quarter of 2015 upon securing permits.
Located in northern Chile, the Candelaria mine has estimated reserves of 600 million tonnes of ore grading 0.95% copper, 3.84 million ounces of gold and 576 million ounces of silver.
Housing an Aqualia-supplied sea water reverse osmosis plant, the mine has the capacity to produce 7.9 million gallons per day.
Photo: Several environmental breaches were found at the Candelaria copper mine in Chile. Image: courtesy of sma.gob.cl.