Argentine court puts brakes on mining project by Canada's Osisko
* Local mayor says court suspends gold exploration work
* Residents, enviromentalists oppose mine project
BUENOS AIRES, July 18 (Reuters) - An Argentine court has ordered Canada's Osisko Mining Corp to halt work on a gold exploration project in the country's north, an official said on Wednesday.
Authorities in the province of La Rioja, supported by environmental activists and residents, had asked a judge to put the brakes on the project near the town of Famatina, which has triggered protests locally.
"We asked for the precautionary measure, which means that no work can be carried out and suspends the agreement between (the provincial government) and Osisko here in Famatina," Famatina mayor Ismael Bordagaray told local radio.
"We've been lucky enough to have the court in Chilecito agree to grant the suspension measure," he added.
The provincial government of La Rioja signed an accord with the Montreal-based miner in August 2011 to start exploration work at the site.
Early this year, Osisko said the project was still at the organizational stage. It said at the time it had made no significant financial investment in the project or conducted any field work.
Compared with neighboring Chile or Peru, Argentina's mining industry is relatively undeveloped.
This has drawn interest from global companies and overall investment reached a record $2.6 billion in 2011, but there is strong local opposition to some projects from residents and environmental campaigners.
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