September 28, 2016 / 4:11 PM / 2 years ago

Argentina judge to rule on suspended Barrick mine soon -local gov't

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp’s Veladero mine in Argentina could reopen in coming days if a report confirms repairs were made after a leak of processing solution containing cyanide earlier this month, a provincial government said.

San Juan province Mining Minister Alberto Hensel said in a statement on Tuesday that a team of police investigators would deliver a technical report within 48 hours to the judge who ordered the temporary suspension.

“If all the repairs have been completed and the mining police give the OK... there will be no reason to sustain the injunction,” said Judge Pablo Oritja, according to the provincial government’s statement.

A Barrick spokesman in Argentina said on Wednesday that the company was waiting for the judge’s decision.

Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer, announced the spill at Veladero, one of its five main mines, on Sept. 15. The province had fined the miner nearly $10 million for an earlier leak that occurred in September 2015.

Although the local judiciary determines whether the mine can operate or not, the federal government’s environment minister filed a written complaint against Veladero last week, saying Barrick might have violated a hazardous waste law and delayed formal notification of the leak.

Prosecutors and environmental groups have long said the mine’s location violates a federal glacier law in Argentina.

Barrick said it used the appropriate communications channels and disclosed the spill in a timely manner. President Kelvin Dushnisky told Reuters on Sept. 19 that he thought the mine could start operating again in two weeks.

The repairs would include lifting a berm, or raised bank, over which the processing solution flowed, he said.

Hensel, the province’s mining minister, said the government was also requiring additional security measures such as monitoring cameras at the mine.

Barrick has not said how much processing solution was spilled. Tests by United Nations investigators in October showed that the year-ago spill had not contaminated local water supplies. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Additional reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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