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Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine to remain suspended

Pipeline repairs at Veladero (Photo; Barrick Gold).

Judge Pablo Oritja said earlier this week that if he found everything to be okay, he would immediately lift the injunction issued against Barrick Gold Corp’s operations at Veladero mine in Argentina.

But Oritja didn’t find everything to be okay.

The San José de Jáchal judge ruled to keep the mine suspended saying repairs were not sufficient to reopen it after a leak of processing solution containing cyanide earlier this month.

According to Argentina’s state news agency Télam, provincial mining police found Barrick had not installed security cameras and sensors as required and, thus, it wouldn’t be able to prevent new spills from happening.

Other repairs ordered include the lifting a berm, or raised bank, over which the processing solution flowed, and the reinforcement of segments where pipelines connect. On September 29, Barrick issued a release saying these were taken care of.

“This morning, the company presented a report to the Mining Ministry. This document includes details and photos that show the fulfillment of urgent and additional measures requested by authorities in order to move forward with the lifting of the temporary suspension of activities at Veladero mine,” the statement reads.

Nevertheless, activities at Veladero, which is one of the largest gold mines in the South American country, will remain on hold until the Toronto-based giant finishes the uncompleted work.

On top of this, La Nación reports (in Spanish) that more delays could be expected since the case would be passed on to a different judge because Oritja is going on vacation leave.

The spill of processing solution happened on September 8 when a pipe carrying it in the heap leach area was struck by a large block of ice that had rolled down the heap leach valley slope.

This isn’t Barrick Gold’s first incident in the area. Earlier this year, the miner was ordered to pay a $9.8 million-fine over a cyanide spill that happened in 2015 at the same site.

Repairs at Veladero mine (Photo" Barrick Gold).