(Adds comments from company, local community, background)
SANTIAGO/TORONTO Dec 7 Chile has rejected an
attempt by local communities to block modifications needed to
keep Barrick Gold Corp's controversial Pascua Lama
project alive, a resolution by the ministerial committee
involved showed on Wednesday.
The Pascua Lama gold and silver project, which straddles the
border of Argentina and Chile in the Andes Mountains, was put on
hold in 2013 due to environmental issues, political opposition,
labor unrest and development costs that ballooned to $8.5
Barrick, the world's largest gold miner, said in September
it had brought back a former executive to advance a scaled-back
development plan for the project that would focus on Argentina.
But the Canadian company faces fierce opposition from people
on the Chilean side, who say the project will pollute and crimp
already scarce water resources in the country's arid north.
"We will appeal with the environmental court, but it won't
be the only action we take. We will do everything in our power
to defend our lives, those of our neighbors and children and our
territory," the Huasco Valley community said in a statement.
It said it will fight the project until it is "closed for
good". The resolution can be appealed with Chile's environmental
court within 30 days.
"The modifications in question related to the water
monitoring system ... and had been approved by Chile's
environmental regulators some time ago," a Barrick spokesman
said, adding the company would give a more detailed update with
its year-end results in February.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito in Santiago & Susan Taylor in
Toronto; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and James Dalgleish)