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Colombia environmental authority shelves AngloGold licensing request

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BOGOTA, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Colombia's environmental licensing authority has shelved a permissioning process for AngloGold Ashanti Ltd's Quebradona copper project, the authority said on Monday.

The decision was taken "following a technical, rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of the environmental impact study, of what was collected during site visits, of additional information presented by the company and the perspectives of other entities," the ANLA authority in a statement.

"ANLA's technical team established it is not possible to submit an in-depth decision about the request for environmental licensing for the mining project, and so it must be archived," the statement said.

AngloGold Ashanti said it had no immediate comment. The company can appeal the decision.

The principal technical considerations that led to the shelving were the definition of the project's area of influence, hydrological, geo-technical and hydro-geological issues and considerations related to the disposal of mining residue, the ANLA said, without providing further details.

The exploration in Jerico, in Antioquia province, has already faced local opposition similar to efforts that forced the company to abandon a $2 billion gold project in the country in 2017.

Exploration work at Quebradona was briefly halted in 2019 before a provincial environmental authority said it could continue.

Colombian mining projects must have environmental approval, as well as other permissions, to move ahead. The licensing process often takes years.

The evaluation was conducted by experts and included two site visits in March and September 2020, the authority said, adding that more than 200 other stakeholders, including community members were consulted.

The company provided a response to additional questions on the project in January, it added.

(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Peter Cooney)