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Another setback for Barrick's troubled Pascua-Lama gold mine

Since the Barrick Gold Corp. project moved in, residents of El Corral, a small town in the foothills of the Andes, claim river levels have dropped, the water is murky and some complain of health problems. Chile's environmental regulator has fined Barrick $16-million and halted development until a water management system is completed.

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Workers walk near the entrance of Barrick Gold Corp.’s Pascua-Lama gold mine in northern Chile, near the border of Argentina, May 23, 2013. Chile’s environmental regulator blocked the $8.5-billion project on May 24 and imposed its maximum fine on the world’s largest gold miner, citing “very serious” violations of its environmental permit.


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Security officers walk away from the entrance of the Pascua-Lama facilities.


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Farmer Juana Lopez shows a tumour growing inside her mouth, in El Corral, a small town of about 200 inhabitants, mostly from the Diaguita ethnic group, near the Pascua-Lama project, May 23, 2013. Lopez blames her health problem on contamination of the water caused by the mining project.


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Mining trucks sit parked on the facilities May 23, 2013. The project, pegged to cost $1.5-billion back in 2004, is now expected to cost $8-billion.

Jorge Saenz/AP

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The village of El Corral is located just downstream from the Pascua-Lama project, the world’s highest gold mine. Since the Barrick project moved in, residents claim river levels have dropped, the water is murky in some places, and some complain of cancerous growths and aching stomachs.

Jorge Saenz/AP

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A gold processing plant under construction in Argentina is pictured in this Feb. 2, 2012 handout photo obtained by Reuters. The plant, which will process 45,000 tons of ore per day, is nearly two kilometres in length.


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Mining machinery and barrels filled with chemicals sit on the facilities of Barrick’s Pascua-Lama project, May 23, 2013.


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Peter Munk, founder and chairman of Barrick Gold Corp., is photographed in front of a map pinpointing the Pascua Lama project at the company’s annual general meeting in Toronto April 24, 2013.


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Pascua-Lama mine construction.


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Lettering on a sign above an effigy of a worker reads, in Spanish, “This is my family,” at the entrance of the Pascua-Lama project May 23, 2013.


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El Corral village leader Yovana Paredes, 40, and a neighbour look at a chicken carcass found by their neighbour on his morning rounds. The neighbour believes the chicken died from drinking contaminated water.


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Ms. Paredes gathers herbs along the banks of the Estrecho River, in the foothills of the Andes, where for as long as anyone can remember residents have drunk straight from the glacier-fed river that irrigates their orchards and vineyards with clean water.


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The message on a water tank in El Corral reads “No Pascua-Lama.”


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