MAC: Mines and Communities

Barrick Says Pascua Lama On Track

Published by MAC on 2006-05-24
Source: Reuters

Barrick says Pascua Lama on track

24th May 2006

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Canadian miner Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) said on Wednesday the remaining details of its $1.5 billion Pascua Lama gold project were on track for final approval by the Chilean government despite environmental and community opposition.

At a world mining conference in Santiago, Igor Gonzales, president of Barrick Gold South America, said the problems the Pascua Lama project is confronting are no different from those of its other projects.

"The biggest challenges we are facing by far, in both South America and Africa, are social in nature," said Gonzales.

The project has faced strong criticism from environmental and community groups worried about water pollution and wary of the project's original proposal to remove glaciers in the Andes mountain range.

The project received tentative approval from the Chilean government in February, but awaits approval from Argentina.

Barrick, with 22 mines in four continents, is the world's largest gold miner.

Barrick said the Pascua Lama project entails an investment of about $1.5 billion and has reserves of some 18.3 million ounces of gold, which will be accessed through an open-pit mine over a period of 20 years.

Gonzales stressed the importance of Barrick investments in South America, especially in Peru, Argentina and Chile, which together represent about a third of the firm's gold reserves.

Gonzalez also said its Chilean copper mine, Zaldivar, which last year produced 123,286 tonnes of copper cathode, was not for sale, even though copper is not the company's main focus.

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