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Toronto-based miner Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX) has laid out some US$49mn so far on closing its El Indio gold-copper mine site in northern Chile's Region IV, according to a company report.
In addition Barrick has spent US$15mn on closing the Tambo mine, which was a smaller mine worked in conjunction with El Indio. Mining at El Indio ended early in 2002. In 2001, it produced 87,897oz of gold plus a "small amount" of copper. The mine operated for some 20 years.
The El Indio mine closure program is based on a voluntary plan submitted to Chilean environmental authorities in September 2003. At the time the plan called for US$50mn in costs. According to Barrick, it is approximately 85% complete, while the Tambo closure is 95% complete.
Closure works have included closing all points of access to the underground workings, restoring watercourses, cleaning and leveling land and returning filled areas to their natural gradients to ensure stability, minimize impact and guarantee surface and underground water quality. The closure plan also includes continual soil and water monitoring.
Pending closure activities include the dismantling of the camp and disused power lines.
Sources in Chile's mining industry told BNamericas that Barrick is discussing the possible sale of the El Indio property with a Chilean mining company.
"We are currently focused on the final closure of the [El Indio] property and the permitting process of Pascua-Lama [Barrick's new large-scale gold mine on the Chile-Argentina border]," Barrick's Toronto-based communications director Vince Borg told BNamericas.
He declined to comment on the possible sale of El Indio.