SANTIAGO – Chilean environmental authorities have imposed a fine of 7.62 billion pesos (some $11.9 million) on the Caserones mining company for environmental transgressions, one of the biggest penalties ever handed down in the South American nation for that type of offense.
Caserones committed 17 violations of its environmental permit, eight of them categorized as “serious,” the Environment Superintendence, or SMA, said in a statement issued Wednesday.
The mining company, based in the northern region of Atacama, was found guilty of different infractions, including not implementing measures to prevent the contamination of groundwater within the Copiapo River basin.
“Let me take this opportunity to reiterate my appeal to project owners. Our country needs your initiatives and investment to grow and develop, but you must be very rigorous is complying with your environmental obligations,” SMA chief Cristian Franz Thorud said.
The fine was the second-biggest in Chilean history after the $16.5 million penalty imposed on Canadian mining company Barrick Gold for environmental violations at its now-suspended Pascua Lama project on the Argentine-Chilean border.
Among other violations, a transmission line that Caserones built to supply electricity to the project also did not follow the authorized route, and the company also launched the project without validating the studies, designs and systems pertaining to potential leaks at dump leach pads and ballast tank deposits.
Caserones, a unit of Lumina Copper Chile, is an open-pit copper and molybdenum mine that is located 162 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of the northern city of Copiapo.