Monday, April 30, 2012

Supreme court demands environmental reports used to approve Pascua Lama

The Argentine supreme court has ordered the national and the San Juan provincial governments to submit the environmental reports that were used to approve Canadian miner Barrick Gold's (NYSE: ABX) bi-national Pascua Lama gold-silver project, a source from the court confirmed to BNamericas.

The request is the result of a lawsuit submitted by a local community that is accusing the company of contamination on the Argentine side of the project.

Pascua Lama straddles the border between Argentina and Chile, with most of the designed open pit mine located on the Chilean side and the processing plants on the Argentine side.

The San Juan provincial government has been given 10 days to comply with the court order and submit the complete file of the environmental evaluation approval process.

The national government has also been given 10 days to inform the court if the environmental impact studies, set as a condition for its development as part of the agreement between Chile and Argentina to jointly host the project, were actually carried out.

Pascua Lama, currently under construction, involves pre-production capital cost of US$4.7bn-5bn, up from a previous estimate of US$3.3bn-3.6bn, as a result of inflationary pressures.

The project remains on track to start operating in mid-2013 and average annual gold production is put at 800,000-850,000oz in the first five years at negative total cash costs of US$225-US$275/oz.