SANTIAGO, Chile, May 24 (UPI) -- Mining company Barrick Gold Corp. was fined $15.8 million Friday by the Chilean government for allegedly violating environmental controls at its flagship mine.
Barrick halted construction last month at the Pascua-Lama mine's Chilean operations after government officials ordered the company to stop work because of "serious violations" of environmental standards that followed complaints made by aboriginal communities, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The mine is in both Chile and Argentina. Barrick still is in operation on the Argentinean side of the mine.
The fine is the latest project setback for Barrick, based in Toronto, the Journal said. In April, Barrick said it was evaluating alternatives for the oft-delayed and cost-overrun-riddled Pascua-Lama project, including possibly suspending the project.
Barrick and Silver Wheaton Corp., a Canadian company involved in the project, stopped trading their shares after the fine became public Friday. Officials from both companies did not return calls seeking comment, the Journal said.
Chile's Environmental Superintendency said it has fined Barrick the maximum penalty possible, saying the project didn't meet environmental protection standards.
Barrick has five days to appeal. If Barrick pays the fine within five days, it will be reduced by 25 percent, the Journal said.