Kinross Gold (TSE:K) (NYSE:KGC), the world’s fifth largest miner of the precious metal by output, has suspended operations at its main mine in Chile earlier than planned after a court upheld the country’s regulator (SMA) decision to shut down the water system linked to the operation over environmental concerns.
The Canadian miner, which disputes the regulator’s accusations of alleged environmental damage, said the move would result in about 300 workers being laid off.
The suspension of operations at Maricunga, originally scheduled for the fourth quarter, is unlikely to affect its 2016 production and cost forecast, Kinross said in a statement.
Chile’s SMA shut down the water system attached to the mine in March, which forced Kinross to suspend mining in May. Operations had resumed last month, but a slower pace and subject to ongoing regulatory proceedings.
The Toronto-based company noted that the Atacama Region, where Maricunga is located, has been the victim of a sustained drought, adding that the resulting drop in groundwater levels was unrelated to the operation.
The mid-size mine produced 44,304 gold equivalent ounces in the second quarter, down from 47,713 ounces in the same period last year. That is equivalent to about 6% of Kinross’ total output of 671,267 ounces.
The company also has mines and projects in Brazil, Russia, Ghana, the US and Mauritania. In the later, it has recently restarted its Tasiast mine after a short-term suspension caused by an expatriate work permit issue.