UPDATE 2-In relief for Barrick, Chile court doesn't nix mine permit

Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:23pm EDT
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* Top court largely upholds appeals court ruling

* Pascua-Lama environmental license untouched

* Indigenous group had appealed to nix permit

By Erik Lopez

SANTIAGO, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Chile's Supreme Court on Wednesday confirmed a freeze on Barrick Gold Corp's suspended Pascua-Lama gold mine but the Toronto-based miner escaped having the project's environmental permit revoked.

The ruling dispels a significant uncertainty surrounding the controversial project, which now essentially has to complete a water management system issued by the environmental regulator to likely be re-activated.

A group of indigenous Chileans had asked the top court to rescind Barrick's license, arguing that environmental harm at the complex, which straddles the Chilean and Argentine border, warranted a re-evaluation of the project.

The group had appealed a Copiapo Court of Appeals ruling in July that ordered a freeze on construction of the complex, which is roughly half complete, until the company builds infrastructure to prevent water pollution.

But the Supreme Court ruled that "the measures issued by Court of Appeals of Copiapo are sufficient to protect the constitutional guarantees that have been denounced as violated."   Continued...