We threw out a quick shot on the story as it broke on Friday, but now we know a lot more about the reasons behind the closure of the Kinross (K.to) (KGC) Maricunga mine in the Atacama region of Chile. Chile’s main daily El Mercurio ran a long report on the situation yesterday and explained how Chile’s Superintendency of the Environment (Superintendencia de Medio Ambiente, SMA) ordered the mine to close down its two water wells and from this, to stop all mining operations at its 1,100 employee mine.
Kinross has said it will appeal against the order and decision in the Chilean courtrooms, however El Mercurio nailed the moneyline quote from the SMA’s Cristián Franz, who didn’t mince words about the effects to the local environment caused by Kinross and its mine.
“Faced with the seriousness of the events (and) the irreparable damage caused to a very fragile ecosystem, we have decided to apply one of the most severe sanctions considered under the law. From the point of view of environmental damage, we have found one of the most critical situations which has exceeded those we have seen previously.”
The SMA directly blames the Maricunga mine for causing “...an irreparable environmental damage over 69.4 hectares of vegetation in the Valle Ancho marshland, located near the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park in Atacama region, a vast area where many vulnerable species such as flamingos, guanacos and vicuñas live“. The closure notice was made in order to preserve another 73 hectares of the marshland that are under threat and to stop them from drying out in the same way as the irreparably damaged areas.
The SMA accuses Kinross of “Omission of execution of necessary actions to take responsibility for the unexpected environmental impact, consisting of the diminishing of the water table and the consequent drying out of at least 70 hectares of marshland…and the imminent risk of expansion of the affected area by another 73 hectares of marshland“.