Barrick Gold Corp. [ABX-TSX; GOLD-NYSE] has accepted the Antofagasta Environmental Courtâ€™s decision to uphold the closure order and sanctions Chileâ€™s environmental regulator imposed on CompaÃ±Ãa Minera Nevada, the Barrick subsidiary that holds the Chilean portion (Pascua) of the Pascua-Lama project.
Barrick said the ruling drew a line under a legal process that started in 2013 and the company would not appeal it.Â Construction was suspended that year and Pascua would now be transitioned from care and maintenance to closure in accordance with the Environmental Courtâ€™s decision.
Following the ruling, Marcelo Ãlvarez, Barrickâ€™s executive director for Chile and Argentina, said Pascua-Lama remained an important project and work is already under way to re-evaluate its potential. This involves a comprehensive internal review of its technical, economic and social aspects as well as different approaches to permitting and development should the ongoing studies deliver a project that meets Barrickâ€™s investment filters. He confirmed that any new project development would comply with current legislation in both Chile and Argentina.
â€œBarrick is a very different company since its merger with Randgold and we now have a strong focus on establishing good relations with the communities and authorities,â€ he said.
â€œBarrick sees great potential in a region that has always encouraged the development of sustainable mining projects, and is committed to further investment in Chile and ArgentinaÂ and to building productive partnerships with the government, business associates and communities.Â As elsewhere in the Barrick group, we will ensure that the economic benefits we create are shared equitably with our stakeholders and that our operations are conducted with due care for health, safety and the environment.â€
While the project was suspended, Pascua-Lama continued to treat andÂ monitor water quality in order to meet its environmental commitments.Â The Environmental Court acknowledged that none of the earlier infringements which prompted the closure order had caused irreparable damage.