Antofagasta's Los Pelambres mine faces potential $24 million fine, closure

Chile's environmental regulator SMA is seeking sanctions against Antofagasta’s (LON:ANTO) Los Pelambres copper mine for breaching its environmental permit in relation to the management of water resources and nearby flora.

The alleged violations include the extraction of water from unauthorized sites, the construction of unapproved wells and the failure to reforest some areas as required by law.

The nine charges (in Spanish), the second of their kind against the mine in the last 19 months, could lead to a $23.8 million fine and even the temporary or indefinite closure of Los Pelambres, SMA said in an e-mailed statement.

The infractions include the extraction of water from unauthorized sites, the construction of unapproved wells and the failure to reforest some areas as required by law.

Five of those alleged were considered serious and four minor, the SMA said.

In March last year, a Chilean court ordered the firm to destroy a giant dam it constructed for the mine, located 200 km north of capital Santiago. The company appealed and the decision was revoked last August.

Los Pelambres is Antofagasta’s flagship asset, producing 2% of the world’s copper. Last year, it yielded 375,800 tonnes of the red metal.