May 31, 2013 / 10:00 PM / 4 years ago

Barrick pays $11.6 mln fine for environmental harm in Chile

SANTIAGO, May 31 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp has paid a discounted $11.6 million fine for serious environmental violations at its suspended Pascua-Lama gold project, a spokesperson for the company said on Friday.

Last Friday, Chile’s new environmental regulator ordered the controversial $8.5 billion project be halted and fined the world’s biggest gold miner around $16 million.

Chilean law provides a 25 percent discount if the fine is paid within five working days.

The project will likely be reactivated in one to two years at the earliest, given the infrastructure that needs to be built to avoid water pollution, the regulator told Reuters on Thursday.

Barrick is due to present a plan to meet the regulator’s requirements next week.

A Chilean court in April had already temporarily halted 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.

The fine imposed by the regulator stems from one “very serious breach” and four “serious breaches.” Given the infractions, Greenpeace said the fine was “laughable.”

Barrick shares closed down 13 cents at $21.58 on Friday in Toronto.

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