UPDATE 1-Digging work suspended at Barrick's Pascua Lama mine

Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:57pm EST
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* Inspectors warned dust levels may pose health risk

* Barrick says earth-moving work halted on Oct. 27

* Gold mine project has suffered numerous setbacks

SANTIAGO, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp, the world's biggest gold producer, said on Saturday it had halted earth-moving works at its Pascua Lama mine on the Chile-Argentina border following concerns about the health of workers at the site high in the Andes.

Inspectors from the Chilean Mining Ministry's Sernageomin geology unit ordered the suspension of excavation works at the site on the grounds that excessive dust might pose a health risk, La Tercera newspaper reported.

The newspaper said all construction work at the site had been suspended, but Barrick said later that the order from officials applied only to earth-moving operations and that other construction activities continued.

"We voluntarily decided to stop earth-moving work, including pre-stripping activities, on Saturday, Oct. 27," the company said in a statement, adding that measures had been put in place in an effort to resolve the dust problem.

"These decisions were made prior to the notification we received from the authorities on Oct. 31," it added, without saying how long the disruption could last.

No one at Sernageomin could immediately be reached to comment.   Continued...