Second environmental court ruling hits BHP’s Cerro Colorado mine

Cerro Colorado, BHP’s copper mine in Chile. (Image by Zwansaurio | Flickr Commons)

A Chilean court ordered BHP’s Cerro Colorado copper mine, in the extreme north of the country, to cease drawing water from a riverbed near its facility and regulate nearby waste deposits following complaints from a nearby indigenous community.

The ruling follows another by the Supreme Court in January which upheld local indigenous communities’ complaint that Cerro Colorado’s operations were overdrawing water and impacting local wetlands and ordered a fresh environmental review.

The latest ruling from the Court of Appeal of the northern city of Iquique ordered BHP to fill in two wells it had dug in the Quipisca-Parca stream and to stop all dumping of waste and ballast material next to it

The latest ruling from the Court of Appeal of the northern city of Iquique ordered BHP to fill in two wells it had dug in the Quipisca-Parca stream and to stop all dumping of waste and ballast material next to it, something the community said was causing run-off and landslides.

BHP told Reuters that Thursday’s court order would not impact the operational continuity of the deposit, which produced 68,900 tonnes of copper in 2020.

“The company is reviewing the details of the ruling to take the corresponding legal actions,” the firm said in a statement.

“Cerro Colorado reaffirms its willingness to maintain dialogue processes with all indigenous organizations in the area of operation.”

The indigenous communities’ lawyer, Lorenzo Soto, said he was “satisfied with this verdict which confirms the illegal actions of this mining company”.

(By Fabian Cambero and Aislinn Laing; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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