UPDATE 1-Chile regulator seeks new sanctions against Barrick's Pascua-Lama

Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:39pm EDT
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(Adds details on sanctions, no comment from company)

SANTIAGO, April 22 (Reuters) - Chile's environmental regulator SMA said on Wednesday it will seek new sanctions against Barrick Gold Corp's massive Pascua-Lama gold and silver project, further complicating the possibility that the suspended mine might resume construction.

The regulator already fined Barrick $16 million in May 2013 for not complying with some of the country's environmental requirements at Pascua-Lama, which was put on hold indefinitely in October 2013.

Inspections that took place between 2013 and 2015, some of which were scheduled and others triggered by complaints from the local community, had revealed ten new infractions, the SMA said.

The project had broken rules relating to protecting flora and fauna, monitoring glaciers, water management, among others, it said, adding that it considered one infraction - the construction of works outside the permitted area - as "very serious."

Representatives at Barrick were not immediately available for comment.

At one time Barrick's biggest new development project, Pascua-Lama's development was halted by the Toronto-based miner after spending over $5 billion.

The project, which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina, was plagued by political opposition, permit issues, labor unrest, cost overruns and falling gold prices. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Rosalba O'Brien, Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; editing by Chris Reese and G Crosse)