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News > Chile

Chilean Court Closes Mining Project Over Environmental Impacts

  • View of Huasco Valley, Atacama Region, Chile, Sept. 18, 2020.

    View of Huasco Valley, Atacama Region, Chile, Sept. 18, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @SvampaM

Published 18 September 2020

Pascua Lama project discharged acidic water into a river that supplied Indigenous communities.

Chile's Environment Tribunal Thursday closed the Pascua Lama mining project, which was owned by the Canadian company Barrick Gold, because of its environmental impacts.


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The Tribunal ordered the total and definitive Pascua Lama's closure as it imposed US$9 million fine on Barrick Gold, which is the world's largest gold mining company.

Pascua Lama was at an altitude of 4,500 meters in the Huasco Valley, in the Atacama region, which borders Argentina. From the beginning, the local inhabitants rejected the project and their claim became stronger after the mining labors contaminated their waterways.

"The project will be shut down permanently because of the danger it poses to people's health and the damage it causes to the environment," the Court stated.

Barrick Gold's project violated 33 environmental standards. Besides affecting wildlife species, it discharged acidic water into a river that supplied Diaguita communities.

"This is a great victory for Chile's Indigenous communities after many years of legal struggle," environmental activist Sam Varvastian tweeted.

The Canadian company wanted to make Pascua Lama the largest gold and silver deposit in the world. After an US$8 billion investment, the firm intended to produce 615,000 ounces of gold and 18.2 million ounces of silver.

In 2013, the project was temporarily suspended after the Tribunal considered that Barrick Gold was not making enough efforts to safeguard the waterways surrounding Pascua Lama.

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