UPDATE 1-Chile's Supreme Court signals death knell for Kinross gold mine
(Adds comment from Kinross)
By Fabian Cambero
Oct 10 (Reuters) - Chile's Supreme Court upheld an
environmental order for a gold mine owned by Canada's Kinross
Gold Corp to close its water pumping wells, the
environmental regulator said on Wednesday, bringing the curtain
down on a long-running dispute that sparked the Toronto-based
miner's retreat from Chile.
The environmental watchdog, known locally as the SMA,
initially ordered that the wells serving the Maricunga mine be
shut down in 2016. The ruling was challenged by Kinross in
Chile's environmental tribunal and then in the country's highest
The Supreme Court on Wednesday backed the original order,
pointing to the "inadequate management of unforeseen
environmental impacts on the Pantanillo-Ciénaga Redonda basin,"
which is located in northern Chile's Atacama Desert.
Kinross told Reuters it was analyzing the decision's
implications on potential future operations at the mine.
"Mining at Maricunga was suspended in Q4 2016 and the
decision is not expected to impact the status quo," a
Kinross, the world's fourth largest gold miner by output in
2017, halted all extraction, grinding and stockpiling of ore in
the fourth quarter of 2016 and laid off 300 staff after the
original ruling in March of that year.
At the time, local news media quoted the company as saying
that environmental damage in the area had been caused by drought
rather than extraction operations.
The Maricunga mine accounted for 8 percent of the company's
total gold production in 2015.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero and Aislinn Laing; writing by Dave
Sherwood, editing by Jonathan Oatis and G Crosse)
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