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Chile court ruling to delay Pascua-Lama decision

The top court of Chile has annulled four of the five closure orders issued in October by Chile’s environmental regulator against Barrick Gold’s Chile subsidiary that holds a portion of the giant Pascua-Lama project.
Chile court ruling to delay Pascua-Lama decision Chile court ruling to delay Pascua-Lama decision Chile court ruling to delay Pascua-Lama decision Chile court ruling to delay Pascua-Lama decision Chile court ruling to delay Pascua-Lama decision

Barrick Gold says a final decision on Pascua-Lama will be further delayed by a new Chile supreme court ruling

However, the supreme court ruling last Thursday would further delay a final decision on the project, CEO Mark Bristow said Monday.

Bristow said despite the supreme court's decision resulting in further delays on deciding the future of the Pascua-Lama project, the company remained focused on resolving the legacy legal and environmental issues.

As part of ongoing remediation work, Barrick said it had conducted geochemical and geohydrological studies for a water-management plan in the environmentally sensitive region of the high Andes.

The Supreme Court overturned the Antofagasta environmental court's decision on procedural grounds and sent the case back to the environmental court for review by a different panel of judges, a process that could last several months, Barrick said.

The supreme court did not review the merits of the closure orders, which remained in effect and were subject to an appeal by Barrick.

Bristow said the Chile assets were a critical part of Barrick's portfolio.

"Chile is an investor-friendly country, with a significant mineral endowment, and which encourages the development of mining projects. We believe that despite the legacy challenges relating to the Pascua-Lama project there are exciting opportunities here, especially in the El Indio Belt, and we will be pursuing this in line with our strategy of creating value for all our stakeholders," he said.

The key projects include the jointly owned Zaldívar copper mine and the Norte Abierto and Alturas gold projects.

Over the past 10 years, the company had spent US$8 billion in the country on exploration and development, as well as royalties and taxes, wages and payments to local suppliers, it said.