Antofagasta to appeal order to knock down Los Pelambres mine dam

Antofagasta to appeal order to knock down Los Pelambres mine dam

Los Pelambres copper mine.

London-listed Antofagasta Plc (LON:ANTO) said it would appeal a Chilean court ruling ordering the firm to destroy a giant dam it constructed for its Minera Los Pelambres copper mine, 200km north of Santiago.

The local Los Vilos tribunal’s decision seeks to ensure the natural flow of water to a nearby town, but the company argues its proposed plan of works for the project was sufficient to guarantee that water would flow from the estuary to Caimanes.

According to local paper La Tercera (in Spanish), Antofagasta chief executive officer, Diego Hernandez, said the company would do "everything necessary legally" to ensure the mine operations continued.

"Demolishing the wall of the tank, which was authorized in accordance with our environmental legislation and complies with all the norms for its correct operation, would provoke great damage to the Caimanes community and the environment," the firm said in a statement on Monday (in Spanish). It added it would also imply the suspension of operations.

The case centres on concerns that the dam, which is used to hold mining waste materials, has diverted the course of a local estuary, causing water shortages at a time of drought.

Last week, protestors blocked access to the mine, forcing Antofagasta to cut its output from the project by around 5,000 tonnes.

The news impacted Antofagasta’s stock, which closed down almost 5% down on Tuesday at 715.48 pounds.

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(*) The original version of this article stated it was a Supreme Court ruling. However, the decision was made by a local court. Antofagasta has held a long-dragged battle about the dam, which led to a Supreme Court ruling in October last year ordering Antofagasta to alter the dam to allow water to flow to the town of Camaines.