Delays at Barrick's Pascua Lama
Construction of Barrick Gold's Pascua-Lama project straddling the border between Argentina and Chile is once again in danger of facing more delays.
Diario Libre reports the Court of Copiapó, Chile*, has accepted to hear an appeal from five indigenous communities living in the area for an injunction against the project.
They claim the project could destroy glaciers and pollute water in the region high in the Andes.
Barrick (NYSE:ABX TSX:ABX) is continuing construction of the mine and it is likely the case would eventually be thrown out, but the Toronto-based firm could end up paying more in compensation to local communities.
Barrick, the globe's top gold producer, has already sunk $2.8 billion into the ambitious project and in July announced a 50-60% cost blow-out for the mine which could end up with a final bill of as much as $8 billion.
The miner also delayed start-up of the mine to mid-2014 saying "the challenges of building a project of this scale and complexity were greater than we anticipated".
Pascua-Lama will be one of the highest altitude mines in the world at between 3,800 and 5,200 meters above sea level. The average temperature through the year is 0°C.
Pascua-Lama is set produce 800,000 – 850,000 ounces of gold and 35 million ounces of silver in the first full five years of its 25 year life.
Silver streaming company Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW TSX:SLW) is pumping $625 million into Pascua-Lama in exchange for 25% of the life-of-mine silver production from the project.
*A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Copiapó is in Argentina.
Image is a screen-grab of a protest video posted to YouTube in November last year.