Barrick Gold’s troubled Pascua Lama project in Chile was fined $16.4 million by Chile’s Superintendent for the Environment, Juan Carlos Monckeberg Fernandez for the company’s failure to comply with environmental regulation Chilean daily El Mercurio reported.
The fine was for a “serious breach and four serious violations” and all other construction work on Pascua-Lama was ordered to be halted until Barrick completes Pascua-Lama’s water management system.
In a statement, Barrick said it is “fully committed to complying with all aspects of the resolution and to operating at the highest environmental standards.”
The Pascua Lama project is located in the Andes Mountains, between Chile and Argentina. Barrick had already announced its operations in Chile were halted in its latest earnings release, as the company was assessing environmental and regulatory requirements, while negotiating with a court of appeals. Barrick has invested nearly $5 billion in Pascua Lima, which holds almost 18 million oz of proven and probable gold reserves and 676 million oz of silver.
The violations include an “unjustified discharge coming from the acid treatment plant to the Estrecho River that was neither declared to monitored. Other violations include earthworks without prior approval, while failing to build others that were supposed to be in place before other construction commenced, said the Associated Press.
“There were some reporting requirements that we hadn’t fully complied with and there were aspects of the water management system which were not fully completed on time,” Barrick Director, Media Relations, Andy Lloyd told the Globe and Mail. “Those were the types of things that the fine is for, but they didn’t fine us for polluting.”
The main problem appears to be the water management systems at Pascua Lama, El Mercurio reported. The openpit mining project has the potential to contaminate water in the area, and according to the Chilean government, Barrick hasn’t taken the proper precautions, precautions it had agreed to previously.