Chile judge to visit Barrick's suspended Pascua-Lama mine

Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:23pm EDT
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SANTIAGO, June 27 (Reuters) - A Chilean judge said on Thursday he will visit Barrick Gold Corp's Pascua-Lama gold mine on Monday to evaluate the suspended project before deciding whether to allow construction to resume.

In April, the courts temporarily halted construction of Pascua-Lama, which straddles the Chile-Argentine border, to weigh claims by indigenous communities that the project has damaged pristine glaciers and harmed water supplies.

"I'm going to go through the works next Monday and verify on site exactly what the situation is. A personal inspection was never ordered, but this shows the concern that the court has to make the best possible ruling," Judge Antonio Ulloa said.

To be sure, Chile's environmental regulator also halted work at the mine in May, citing violations, and said the company must come up with a water management system in accordance with its permits before restarting the build.

The Canadian miner has called the $8.5 billion mine its top priority. Investors are keenly watching what happens to the controversial project, the latest mega-mine to face setbacks in top copper producer Chile.