UPDATE 2-Chile court suspends Barrick's Pascua-Lama project

Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:00am EDT
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* Project plagued by soaring costs, public opposition

* Indigenous groups protest against effect on glaciers, water

* Company says it has not been notified by court

SANTIAGO, April 10 (Reuters) - A Chilean court has suspended the construction of Barrick Gold Corp's $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama gold and silver mine after indigenous communities said the project was destroying glaciers and harming water supply.

The northern appeals court of Copiapo will analyze the communities' complaints of "environmental irregularities" against Barrick's project, which is already plagued by soaring costs and stiff opposition from environmental groups.

The appeal could take several months, and the dispute will probably end up in the Chilean Supreme Court, a court source told Reuters.

Barrick's shares dropped 3.9 percent to C$26.11 in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The suspension is the latest in a series of setbacks to key mining and energy projects in top copper producer Chile that threaten to derail a massive pipeline of investment in the Andean country, as well as a setback to Barrick.

Barrick, the world's top gold miner, told Reuters it could not comment because it had not been notified by the court. It was not immediately clear how long the suspension might last or what legal action the company could take to protect its investment in the project, which is perched high in the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile.   Continued...