UPDATE 1-Chilean court agrees to study new appeal against Pascua-Lama

Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:56pm EDT
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SANTIAGO Oct 11 (Reuters) - A Chilean appeals court has agreed to examine a new appeal against Barrick Gold Corp's suspended Pascua-Lama gold mine that alleges the project is hurting the environment and the quality of life for the local population.

The country's Supreme Court and environmental regulator have already frozen construction of the mine because of "significant environmental harm." The suspension is poised to be lifted once a water management system is complete.

But the new appeal charges that the mine engaged in "illegal and arbitrary acts," referring to the "installation, execution and realization of works and activities ... that were not authorized by the environmental regulator (SMA)."

The legal action, presented by lawyer Barbara Salinas, seeks a new freeze on Pascua-Lama.

The local Antofagasta Court of Appeals will study the appeal, a spokesman for Chile's court system said on Friday. It was not yet clear when it might issue a decision or how it might rule.

Salinas told Reuters it was tricky to predict when a ruling might be issued but that she expected it "as soon as possible."

Toronto-based Barrick declined to comment.

The latest action against the $8.5 billion project, originally forecast to produce 800,000 to 850,000 ounces of gold a year, came just weeks after the Supreme Court rejected a move to strike down the mine's environmental permit.   Continued...