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Chilean tribunal gives Dominga iron ore-copper project a second chance

Dominga is located about 65 km (40 miles) north of the central city of La Serena. (Digital rendition of project, courtesy of Andes Iron)

Following a conciliation process between Andes Iron and Chile’s Ministry of Environment, Antofagasta’s First Environmental Tribunal decided to reverse a decision that forbade the Dominga copper and iron ore project from going forward.

The new development means that the Environmental Assessment Commision of the central Coquimbo region now has to reassess the $2.5-billion initiative.

In a press release, Andes Iron CEO, Iván Garrido, said that management was very pleased with the ruling. In his view, the edict only pushes the company to continue working within the established legal framework to develop socially and environmentally sustainable mining activities.

Today’s decision, however, contravenes a ruling by the Ministries Committee for Sustainability which, in August 2017, determined that the project does not comply with current environmental laws. It also goes against the position of Coquimbo’s Environmental Assessment Commision, which rejected the mine in March 2017.

According to opposition senator Yasna Provoste, the new resolution ignored the fact that the mine would sit close to a marine reserve that is a source of food and employment for artisanal fishers.

Previously, the ministers of Economy, Energy, Environment, Agriculture, and Health expressed concerns over the fact that the site is very close to a popular Humboldt penguin reserve.

If approved, the Dominga complex, which includes open-pit mining, a processing facility, a desalination plant and a port, is expected to produce 12 million tonnes of iron ore and 150,000 tonnes of copper per year.