Construction on Barrick Gold Corp’s Pascua-Lama gold mine was halted in April by a Chilean court after indigenous communities argued that the project, which straddled the border of Chile and Argentina, has damaged pristine glaciers and harmed water supplies. On July 1, a Chilean judge will visit the mine to evaluate the suspended project before deciding whether to allow construction to resume.
“I’m going to go through the works next Monday and verify on site exactly what the situation is. A personal inspection was never ordered, but this shows the concern that the court has to make the best possible ruling,” Judge Antonio Ulloa told Reuters.
To be sure, Chile’s environmental regulator also halted work at the mine in May, citing violations, and said the company must come up with a water management system in accordance with its permits before restarting the build.
The Canadian miner has called the $8.5 billion mine its top priority. Investors are keenly watching what happens to the controversial project, the latest mega-mine to face setbacks in top copper producer Chile.