Chilean Mine Fined $16 Million

$8.5 billion project suspended

The Yanacocha gold mine.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Chilean authorities have fined the world's largest gold minion company $16 million for environmental offenses and suspended operations at an $8.5 billion mining project on the border with Argentina. It is the largest fine possible under Chilean law.

Environmental activist and authorities claimed the mine, by Barrick Gold, failed to put in place a water treatment system to contain contaminated waste water and to prevent rainwater contamination from entering the Estecho river.

"We don't know how much contamination the fruit and vegetables we eat may have," local leader Yovana Paredes Paez, who lives downstream of the project told FoxNews. "They're drying up the river, our farms aren't the same. The animals are dying of hunger. Now there's no cheese or meat. It's changed completely."

Barrick's shares lost more than half of their value in the last year, due to problems at the mine. And government officials say it will not be allowed to reopen until the company puts it place a system to contain contaminated water. Together, Barrick's two mines in the region fuel a third of the provincial San Juan economy.

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