CHILE – Construction of the Chilean portion of the Pascua-Lama gold mine has been suspended following an injunction issued by a Chilean court of appeals. Toronto-based owner Barrick Gold Corp. said in a tersely worded statement that it "has not yet been formally notified of the court order and will assess the potential implications once it has received official notification."
Barrick was quick to point out that work in Argentina is not affected. The majority of the project's infrastructure, including the processing plant and tailings management area, is located in that country. The pit straddles the border of Chile and Argentina, 5,500 metres above sea level in the Andes Mountains.
The court in the city of Copiapo charged the world's largest gold miner with "environmental irregularities" at Pascua-Lama. The charges were laid by the Diaguita indigenous people who complained that the project is threating their water supply by destroying glaciers and polluting groundwater. They allege that the project has negative impacts, or at least the risk of negative impacts, on the Estrecho and Huasco rivers.
The Pascua-Lama project has been delayed at several stages of exploration and development. Not the least of which lasted over a decade until 2009 as the two countries worked out a treaty that would allow workers to move freely back and forth over the border in the pit. Every delay costs money, too. Barrick has watched as the cost of the project that started out at $3 billion balloon to over $8 billion. The opening of the mine has already been delayed several times to the second half of 2014. Appealing the court's decision will result in further postponement of the start-up.
Visit Barrick's website at Barrick.com to learn more about the Pascua-Lama project.
Seems like the indigenous people always have an objection to the progress and enrichment of their countries – the attitude being “me first”. I’ve been there – seen it first-hand. Greed and corruption is what stops them from becoming first world nations.
While Lynne’s comment is rather harsh and could be phased better, it is hard to argue with it. The situation is exacerbated by a cadre of less than scrupulous advisors whose main objective seems to be continuing their fees rather than benefiting their clients. Coupled with the advisors that have hidden agendas, mainly to keep progress from ever happening for ‘environmental’ reasons, the indigenous people are as much victims as not in many of these processes. Examples are rife throughout Canada.