Barrick: Court Ruling Delays Ultimate Pascua-Lama Decision
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A Supreme Court of Chile ruling last week in essence delayed a decision on the Pascua-Lama project, reports Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: GOLD; TSX: ABX). The decision annulled an October administrative decision of the Antofagasta Environmental Court, which had rejected four of the five closure orders issued by Chile’s environmental regulator against the Chilean subsidiary of Barrick that holds the Chilean portion of the project. The Supreme Court overturned the Antofagasta court’s decision on procedural grounds and sent the case back to the Environmental Court for review by a different panel of judges, a process that could last several months, Barrick says. The Supreme Court did not review the merits of the closure orders, which remain in effect and are subject to an appeal by Barrick. Mark Bristow, Barrick president and chief executive officer, said that although the Supreme Court’s decision basically delayed a decision on the future of the Pascua-Lama project, the company remains focused on resolving the legal and environmental issues. The company says it has conducted geochemical and geohydrological studies for a water-management plan. Bristow says Chilean assets are an important part of Barrick’s portfolio. “Chile is an investor-friendly country, with a significant mineral endowment, and which encourages the development of mining projects,” he says, adding that the company still believes there are “exciting opportunities” at Pascua-Lama.