* Pascua-Lama construction frozen due to environment impact
* Water infrastructure needed before project reactivated
SANTIAGO, June 12 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp says it will take until December of next year to build the water infrastructure needed to meet Chilean environmental requirements for the miner to restart its $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama gold project, high in the Andes Mountains.
Last month, Chile’s environmental regulator ordered construction of the project be halted and fined the company $16 million, citing serious environmental violations.
“The work program contemplates an estimated timeline of approximately 18 months to complete all works associated with the water management system in Chile,” Andy Lloyd, a spokesman for Barrick, said on Wednesday after the regulator posted Barrick’s proposed timetable on its website.
“However, these estimates are subject to review by Chilean regulatory authorities,” Lloyd added.
In a document published later on Wednesday, the regulator said Toronto-based Barrick still hadn’t provided all the information necessary for its compliance plan to be approved.
It gave the world’s biggest gold miner three working days to give further details of how it plans to meet requirements for avoiding water pollution and averting environmental harm at the controversial project.
A Chilean court in April had already suspended the unpopular project, which straddles the border of Chile and Argentina, to weigh claims by indigenous communities that Barrick has damaged pristine glaciers and harmed water supplies.
Barrick said earlier this month it would delay the mine’s startup beyond 2014, and as a result it would likely exceed its current budget for the project.
The company’s shares were up 1.8 percent at C$20.35 on Wednesday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.