Anglo American charged for breaching environmental laws in Chile

Chile's environmental regulator (SMA) is bringing charges against mining giant Anglo American's (LON:AAL) local division, after inspections conducted last April showed the company breached several environmental laws.

According to local newspaper La Segunda, the SMA formalized charges against the whole mining district located in Chile’s Fifth Region last week, not just Anglo American Sur, despite the firm controls most of the mining operations in the area. The other players involved in the area are Mitsubishi, Mitsui, and Chile’s own Codelco.

After it audited several mining projects at Anglo Sur’s El Soldado, located 132 kilometres from Santiago in the district of Nogales, the authority detected multiple irregularities, including failing to fully preserve and relocate vegetation, ineffective wetland conservation plans and water management, lack of environmental monitoring and tailings located in area for which the company didn’t have a permit for.

Anglo American charged for breaching environmental laws in Chile

Courtesy of Mitsubishi Corp.

The SMA said since Anglo incurred in both minor and serious offenses, it risks fines that range from US$970,000 to $4.9 million, or even the revocation of its environmental permit.

The country’s environmental regulator has been busy this year. In May it imposed $16 million in fines to Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE, TSX: ABX) for violations at its gold and silver Pascua-Lama mine straddling the border with Argentina.

El Soldado copper division comprises an open-cut mine, an underground mine, crushing plants and oxide and sulphide ore treatment facilities. It produced 46,900 tonnes of fine copper in 2011, including high purity copper cathodes and concentrate and employs 1,500 people, including company employees and contractors.

Map courtesy of Mitsubishi Corp.

Image of Chile’s Court of Justice, via Urbipedia.org