Regulators in Chile approve $2.5 billion Dominga copper-iron project
Andes Iron’s $2.5 billion copper and iron mine in Chile received approval from the Coquimbo regional commission on August 11.
The 11-1 vote give the Dominga project the green light for the proposed copper and iron mine after years of wrangling in the country's courts.
Reuters reported that the commission had previously rejected the proposal, but in April, a local environmental court breathed new life into the project, ruling the information provided by the company was sound and requiring regulators take another look.
The commission found the project’s environmental impact study had met all legal requirements.
The victory marks a rare win for a major new project in Chile, the world's top copper producer, and provides a fresh prospect for the South American nation's cohort of sprawling, but aging, mines.
The copper concentrate and iron mining project would be located about 500 km (310 miles) north of the capital Santiago, and near ecological reserves.
Critics say its proximity to environmentally sensitive areas would cause undue damage. Andes Iron, a privately held Chilean company, has long rejected that assertion.
Diego Hernandez, president of Chile's National Mining Society, an industry group that represents the country's largest miners, said the eight-year permitting process had been “excessive” but praised the final result.
He warned, however, that further legal challenges promised by some critics could still see the project's progress stymied.
“Surely its opponents will insist on continuing to try to prevent its development,” Hernandez said.