A revised sanction related to Barrick Gold’s Pascua-Lama project was issued on January 17 by Chile’s Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente (SMA) and includes a reduction of the original fine imposed by SMA of $16 million down to $11.5 million, but ordered the closure of existing facilities on the Chilean side of the project. The sanction is part of a re-evaluation process ordered by the Environmental Court in 2014 and relates to noncompliance with regulatory requirements. The Pascua-Lama project, which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina, is currently operating under a temporary closure plan in Chile.
Based on a preliminary review of the resolution, the SMA has not revoked Pascua-Lama’s environmental permit (RCA).
Barrick Gold said the closure of existing surface facilities in Chile is consistent its plan to advance a prefeasibility study for an underground mining operation at Pascua-Lama, which would address a number of community concerns by reducing the overall environmental impact of the project. To complete the prefeasibility study, Barrick is currently undertaking a number of optimization studies.