Chilean authorities divided over Goldcorp's $3.9bn El Morro mine

Chilean authorities divided over Goldcorp's $3.9bn El Morro mine

El Morro is located at 4,000 metres of altitude in the Atacama Region, north-central Chile.

Barely a week after Goldcorp's (TSX:G), (NYSE:GG) $3.9 billion El Morro gold and copper mine was halted by Chile's Supreme Court, the country’s environmental authority is claiming the company conducted proper consultation with local indigenous groups and shouldn’t have to do it again.

Jorge Troncoso, the executive director of the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA), told Diario Financiero (in Spanish) that the top court decision doesn’t really question the quality of the previous consultation among the local Diaguita community.

He added it is now the turn for the local indigenous groups who oppose the project to demonstrate they were not properly involved in the granting of the environmental permit for El Morro.

This is not the first time Goldcorp has to suspend construction at the site. It happened in 2012 and then again in November last year.

In April, an appeals court rejected the same indigenous group’s attempt to halt the project, saying the Canadian gold miner conducted the required consultation. But the group complained Goldcorp had not done it in the way it should have to regain its mining licence. They also said the mine could pollute a local river and they took the case to the Supreme Court.

The Diaguita also opposed the massive Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) Pascua-Lama project, stalled since 2013.

Goldcorp holds a 70% stake in El Morro. New Gold (TSX:NGD) owns the other 30%. Due to begin operations in 2017, the mine has proven and probable reserves totalling 6.7 million ounces of gold and 4.9 billion pounds of copper.