Chile's environmental authorities slapped a $16.4 million fine Friday on Canadian mining company Barrick Gold for "serious" violations at its unfinished gold mine near the border with Argentina.
Officials here said the fine was levied after a four-month investigation into practices by Nevada Mining Company SpA, a subsidiary of Barrick Gold, which is developing the unfinished Pascua Lama mine, which would have been one of the world's biggest gold mines.
Environmental officials here also confirmed the suspension of the mining project order last month by a Chilean court.
The penalty was imposed for "grave breaches" of permits granted in 2006 by environmental officials, including infractions of guidelines on digging and water management, and failure to provide authorities accurate information about the project.
Local residents have long complained about possible environmental damage to waterways from the massive open pit mining project.
A Chilean court last month suspended construction at the Pascua Lama site, accepting a complaint filed by indigenous groups on environmental grounds.
The Pascua Lama project was launched in 2009 by Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold producer, after an initial $8 billion investment.
The company had planned to spend another $8.5 billion on the mine, and hoped to start production there next year.