Chile's environmental regulator SMA is seeking sanctions against Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres Copper Mine for breaching its environmental permit in relation to the management of water resources and failure to reforest some zones affected by mining activity. Antofagasta is the Chilean parent company of Twin Metals which has proposed to develop a mine and processing plant in the Kawishiwi watershed.
The nine charges, the second of their kind against the mine in the last 19 months, could lead to a $23.8 million fine and even the temporary or indefinite closure of Los Pelambres, SMA said in an e-mailed statement.
The infractions include the extraction of water from unauthorized sites, the construction of unapproved wells and the failure to reforest some areas as required by law.
Five of those alleged were considered serious and four minor, the SMA said.
In March last year, a Chilean court ordered the firm to destroy a giant dam it constructed for the mine, located 200 km north of capital Santiago. The company appealed, and the decision was revoked last August.
Antofagastahas 10 days to present a compliance plan to the SMA or 15 days to present a defense. The punishment for the alleged infractions could be a fine of $23.8 million or the temporary or indefinite closure of the mine, the SMA said.
In 2013, the SMA initiated a separate regulatory proceeding against Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres for mismanaging archeological sites.
Los Pelambres, located in Chile's north-central Coquimbo region, produced 375,800 tons of copper in 2015.
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