Win us with honest trifles

Pascua Lama: Barrick’s (ABX) latest mea culpa

Fun for all in the Chilean courtrooms yesterday, as Barrick (ABX) is under more legal pressure concerning its Pascua Lama project and by way of defence, is giving it the “yes, we were bad boys before but now we’re good boys and we won’t do it again, promise” defence strategy.
The occasion was hosted by Judge Sergio Muñoz the third chamber of the Supreme Court and the hearing is all about opposition to the mine, led by communities from the Huasco Valley who want the thing stopped for good and are appealing against the July ruling that paralyzed the project because it didn’t comply with the Environmental Permits.
Say what, you say? Yup and in fact it makes sense. Those against the project don’t want the current situation of “paralysis of project until Barrick complies” to continue. They want the courts to rule that ABX has broken the deal and therefore the whole EIA permit (known by the initials RCA in Chile) needs to be thrown out. It goes without saying that this is something ABX doesn’t want, as in very not want no thank you, because it would set them back to square one on the enviro permitting track and instead of a delay of months, we’d be talking years minimum and it might even turn out to be the final nail in the Pascua Lama coffin.
So Barrick’s line with the Supreme Court? Here’s how Chile’s main newspaper, La Tercera, reported on the words of ABX’s lawyer at the show, one José Antonio Urrutia (translation, your author):

He said that it, “It is not because the (current) ruling suits the company, as it is a ruling that has ordered the paralyzation of the project and goes some way to confirm the sanctions imposed by the Environmental Authorities (SMA), but because the company has recognized that it has committed infractions to the Environmental Permit (RCA) and therefore believes that the ruling is correct for the circumstances. 

He added that, “As a company we now hope to do things well, we are complying with everything required by the authorities and we are going to do everything possible in order that this project is done in full compliance and strict adherance to the actual law, to administrative resolutions and that which the authorities and neighbouring communities require.”

In other words, that some serious boot-licking going on there. Kow Tow Barrick! Kow Tow!

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