UPDATE 3-Group seeks re-evaluation of Chile's Pascua-Lama project

Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:51pm EDT
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* Group appeals to top court, seeks new environmental permit

* Gold mine already suspended by court and regulator

* Barrick says is working to meet environmental requirements

SANTIAGO, July 22 (Reuters) - A group of indigenous Chileans asked the Supreme Court to revoke the environmental license of Barrick Gold Corp's Pascua-Lama gold mine because it seeks a total re-evaluation of the project, a lawyer representing the group told Reuters on Monday.

The Copiapo Court of Appeals last week ordered a freeze on construction of the project, which straddles the Chile-Argentine border high in the Andes, until the company builds infrastructure to prevent water pollution. However, it did not terminate the project.

"Given the harm caused, this environmental permit has proved itself to be illegal and illegitimate," said Lorenzo Soto, who represents the group of Diaguitas. "The project has to remain suspended until it is completely re-evaluated."

He estimated the Supreme Court could issue a ruling around the end of the year.

The court is likely to back the Copiapo's ruling, said Luis Cordero, a law professor at the Universidad de Chile. But "the likelihood the environmental permit will be revoked is lower," he added.

Chile's environmental regulator, the SMA, had already suspended Pascua-Lama, citing major environmental violations, and asked Barrick to build canals and drainage systems.   Continued...