16 Jul 2013 07:54

SANTIAGO, July 16 (BERNAMA-NNN-XINHUA) -- A Chilean court Monday ruled to uphold the suspension of activity at a Canadian-run mine until the company complies with environmental protection measures, local media reported.

The Appellate Court of Copiapo endorsed the suspension of the Pascua Lama gold mine in Chile's northern Atacama region until Canada's Barrick Gold mining firm makes good on its pledge to the regional government to take the necessary precautions.

According to the court's decision, the company should "maintain the work stoppage on the construction of the mining project in question until it has adopted all the measures considered ... for the proper operation of the water management system, as well as the emergency and temporary measures ordered by the Superintendence of Environment."

The court specifically ordered the company to repair environmental damage caused to two rivers, the Estrecho and Huasco, and to permanently monitor the condition of three glaciers, Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza, as the environmental oversight agency had demanded.

One of the protection measures previously agreed to called on the company to build a canal to prevent polluting the waters of the glaciers in Chile's northern region.

That particular demand was presented at the end of September 2012 by lawyer Lorenzo Soto, who had denounced several construction irregularities, as well as damage to the glaciers and other water contamination.

In June, the environmental agency fined the company eight billion Chilean pesos (some US$10 million) for endangering the glacial waters.

The Canadian firm has so far invested some US$4.8 billion in the US$8.5 billion project, which is 80 per cent complete.

Pascua Lama is a Chilean-Argentinian joint project along their shared border, in the Andean mountain range.