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Ontario court approves C$3B lawsuit against Barrick Gold over Pascua-Lama

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved a proposed C$3 billion securities class action against Barrick Gold Corp. by the Local 675 pension's trustees related to the company's Pascua-Lama gold-copper project on the border of Chile and Argentina, Mining.com reported Oct. 11.

The lawsuit alleges that the company misrepresented its environmental disclosures about the project when it was under construction in an environmentally sensitive area of the Andes mountain range.

Pascua-Lama was suspended in October 2013 due to cost overruns, environmental concerns and falling gold prices, among other reasons, and the company placed it on care and maintenance in January 2014.

The company reached a US$140 million settlement in June 2016 in a class-action lawsuit, which claimed that Barrick misled investors about environmental issues at the project. However, the company insisted that the claims were "unfounded" and did not accept "any charges of wrongdoing or liability."

Barrick said in September 2016 that an underground-only option for the deposit on the Argentine side of the border "may represent the best option to begin a phased development plan for Pascua-Lama."

However, Chile's Supreme Court revoked a temporary closure permit in March 2017, putting the miner's plans to revive the operation in distress.

In October 2018, Chile's environmental court ordered Barrick to close the project's Chilean side and confirmed a US$11.5 million fine against the Canadian miner.

The project is expected to annually produce about 800,000 to 850,000 ounces of gold and 35 million ounces of silver during the first full five years of a 25-year mine life once production starts.