The case centres on farmers claims that Antofagasta’s tailings dam, used to create a reservoir for mine waste, is responsible for a water shortage in the already dry area. The miner, in turn, says a raging seven-year drought affecting the entire country is to blame.
In April, La Serena appeals court sided with Antofagasta and unanimously rejected the lawsuit presented by residents of the local Caimanes community in central Chile, which also blamed the miner’s flagship Los Pelambres copper mine dam of drying up a local stream and contaminating underground water.
The court, however, did not decide on Antofagasta’s appeal to the ruling that ordered it to knock down part, or all, of the tailings dam wall. Such verdict, reports El Diario, should come soon, as a judge summoned the parties Thursday to a hearing where an expert will report on the adequacy of the natural drainage plan originally proposed by Antofagasta.
Los Pelambres copper mine, located 200km north of capital Santiago, is Antofagasta’s flagship asset, producing 2% of the world’s copper. The mine is still operating as the company waits for a final decision to its appeal.