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Barrick Gold accepts Chilean court closure ruling on Pascua-Lama project

FILE PHOTO: The logo of sponsor Barrick Gold Corporation is seen as visitors arrive at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

(Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO said on Friday it would not appeal a Chilean court's ruling to uphold the closure order on the Chilean portion of its Pascua-Lama project imposed by the country's environmental regulator and the sanctions on its unit.

The gold and silver project, which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina, was put on hold in 2013 due to environmental issues, political opposition, labor unrest and development costs that swelled to $8.5 billion.

The miner said Pascua, the Chilean portion, would now be transitioned from care and maintenance to closure in accordance with the environmental court’s decision.

In its ruling dated Sept. 17, the court said the company had failed to implement a set of measures to strictly comply with its environmental license and consequently was not able to adequately protect the environment and people’s health.

It also maintained its earlier fine of more than 7 billion pesos ($9.2 mln) on the miner. [bit.ly/32HSGRj]

Chile's environmental regulator in 2018 ordered Barrick to definitively close the Chilean side of its stalled Pascua-Lama mining project. However, the country's Supreme Court in March 2019 cancelled the order on procedural grounds. [reut.rs/2ZKiv1d]

Pascua-Lama remained an important project and work is already under way to re-evaluate its potential, said Marcelo Álvarez, Barrick’s executive director for Chile and Argentina.

The miner added that it is committed to further investment in Chile and Argentina.

Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

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