Chile’s official commission suggests letting Barrick keep permit for Pascua Lama

Chile’s official commission suggests letting Barrick keep permit for Pascua LamaAfter eight months of investigation a commission of Chile’s parliament’s lower house is recommending authorities to let Canada’s Barrick Gold (NYSE, TSX:ABX) keep the environmental permit for its currently suspended gold and silver Pascua Lama project.

Local paper La Tercera reports (in Spanish) the group said Barrick should not have to re-apply for such as permit, provided it doesn’t repeat the offenses that cost the gold miner over $16 million in fines last year.

The committee also determined the Toronto-based firm did violate the terms of its permit, including workplace safety, environmental protection and construction of roads among others. Therefore, it suggested the establishment of additional conditions to the project, beginning with an exhaustive review of the permit issued in 2006 and the company’s glacier monitoring plan.

Since the Canadian miner announced in late October it was temporarily suspending all construction activity at both sides of Pascua-Lama, which straddles the Chile-Argentina border, about 1,500 jobs have been put on the line.

On the Argentine side, the project currently employs 5,000, but in the next months the total will be reduced to 3,500, as Argentine workers won't be needed for another two years. Barrick is focusing its efforts on the Chilean side, where it needs to build a water treatment facility – a requirement to getting an environmental permit.

Pascua Lama is expected to produce around 850,000 ounces of gold and 35 million ounces of silver in its first five years. Production, scheduled to begin this year, has now been delayed until mid-2016.