Mining News

Chilean authorities assess progress of Pascual Lama’s closure activities

Chile’s mining agency, Sernageomin, together with the Environment Superintendent Office carried out an inspection to assess the status of the closure process of Barrick Gold’s Pascua Lama operation.

According to the government agencies, the inspection was done following a requirement by the Supreme Court of Justice in the application of the Law on the Closure of Mining Operations and Facilities.

“Currently, progress is being made in the disassembling, dismantling and profiling of certain areas, as well as closing the access to now-empty areas within the main facilities and auxiliary facilities. The same is taking place at the plants and facilities used during the project’s construction phase,” Alfonso Domeyko Letelier, Sernageomin’s national director, said in a media statement.

During the inspection, Andrés León, head of Sernageomin’s environmental management and mine closure office, said that the Environment Superintendent Office will continue to work to adjust the project’s environmental qualification resolution (RCA in Spanish), which establishes whether it has been approved or rejected. The RCA is a prerequisite for updating the closure plan.

These actions are related to a development that took place back in February when the Atacama Region Environmental Assessment Service rejected a reconsideration appeal presented by Nevada Mining Company, Barrick’s subsidiary in the South American country, against a decision to set an early end to the evaluation of the Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) of the project related to the closure of Pascua Lama’s water management system.

In the Service’s view, the presentation made by the mining company lacked essential information, which made it impossible to assess the potential effects of its proposed plan to shut down the system. The plan involved infiltrating water between the sector immediately downstream of the leak stop system and the existing line 4 of wells.

Prior to this, on September 17, 2020, the Antofagasta Environment Court ordered the complete closure of the Pascua Lama’s activities due to water contamination and damage to glaciers in the Atacama Region.

However, Barrick’s project, which aimed at exploiting gold, copper and other minerals and contemplated an investment of $2.5 billion, has been stalled since 2013.

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