SANTIAGO, Oct 11 (Reuters) - A Chilean appeals court hasagreed to examine a fresh appeal against Barrick Gold Corp's suspended Pascua-Lama gold mine that says thecontroversial project is hurting the environment and the qualityof life for the local population.
The country's Supreme Court and environmental regulator havealready frozen construction of the mine due to "significantenvironmental harm." The suspension is poised to be lifted oncea water management system is complete.
The local Antofagasta Court of Appeals would look at the newappeal, a spokesman for Chile's court system said on Friday.
However, it is not yet clear when it might issue a decisionor how it might rule.
Barrick declined to comment. The lawyer who presented theappeal could not immediately be reached for comment.
The latest action against the roughly $8.5 billion project,originally forecast to produce 800,000 to 850,000 ounces of goldper year, comes just weeks after the Supreme Court rejected amove to strike down the mine's environmental permit.
A group of indigenous Chileans had asked the top court torescind Barrick's license, arguing that environmental damagefrom the mine, which straddles the Chilean and Argentine border,warranted a re-evaluation of the project.
Pascua-Lama's supporters say its environmental impact willbe limited, and that the massive mine will provide employmentand help boost copper powerhouse Chile's mining-dependenteconomy.
Environmental and social groups counter that the mega miningproject will damage pristine glaciers, strain and pollute thewater supply and harm agricultural activity in the area.
Barrick has stopped construction on the project andsubmitted a plan for water management infrastructure to the SMA.The miner said in June that Pascua-Lama, on which it has alreadyspent $5.4 billion, had been delayed until mid-2016.
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