Barrick Gold reported on December 31, 2014, that the Supreme Court of Chile had declined to consider an appeal by Barrick of a lower court decision regarding sanctions imposed on Barrick’s Pascua-Lama project by the country’s environmental regulator.
Chile’s Tribunal Ambiental (Environmental Court) ruled on March 3, 2014, that the nation’s environmental authority, Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente (SMA), should not have considered numerous environmental violations at Barrick’s cross-border Chile/Argentina Pascua-Lama gold-silver project as a single unit when it fined the company $16 million in May 2013. Instead, the Tribunal Ambiental ruled that up to 22 violations should have been considered individually and fines applied on an individual basis. The Tribunal annulled the original fine, and ordered the SMA to completely redo its original sanctioning resolution, resolving defects and illegalities contained in the first document.
Barrick sought to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, arguing the fines were calculated based on applicable law and commonly accepted legal principles. The Supreme Court declined to consider the appeal on procedural grounds, ruling that Barrick was not a party to the case, because the original action was brought against the government regulator, not Barrick. As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the SMA will now re-evaluate the administrative fines it imposed on the Pascua-Lama project.
The Barrick announcement said the company remains committed to working with its stakeholders and local communities in Chile to advance Pascua-Lama in an environmentally responsible manner, respecting legal and regulatory requirements.
The Pascua-Lama project has nearly 18 million oz of proven and probable gold reserves, with 676 million oz of silver contained within the gold reserves. Mine life has been projected at 25 years. Barrick suspended all construction activity at the project, except activities required for environmental protection and regulatory compliance, at the end of October 2013. The company had previously suspended construction work on the Chilean side of the project in April 2013.