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Chile Court Rejects Petition for Tougher Barrick Sanctions

Chile’s Supreme Court turned down an indigenous community request to place additional measures against Barrick Gold Corp.’s stalled Pascua-Lama project.

In a unanimous ruling, Chile’s highest court rejected a petition filed by the Diaguitas indigenous community seeking to rescind the project’s environment license, the Judiciary said on its website today. The Supreme Court upheld a regional tribunal ruling in July ordering Barrick to complete water resource mitigation work before a work suspension can be lifted.

Construction on the Chilean side of Pascua-Lama, the gold and silver project on the border with Argentina, has been halted since April when a court granted an injunction filed by the Diaguitas concerned that Barrick would contaminate local water supplies. Chile’s environment agency later ordered work to improve protections before the project can restart.

Barrick said June 28 it will reschedule work so that the project’s processing plant in Argentina is completed at the same time as the first ore is ready from the mining operations, most of which are located in Chile. The company said at the time that first production from Pascua-Lama is expected in mid-2016, compared with a previous target of the second half of 2014.

Barrick raised the cost estimate for the mine twice in 2012, to as much as $8.5 billion, and said last month it expects to provide an increased estimate later this year.

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