On March 11, 2016, the Jachal Court of San Juan province, Argentina announced that it will proceed with criminal charges against nine current and former Barrick employees in connection with an unauthorised release of processing solution that occurred at the Veladero mine in September 2015.
Separately, the Government of San Juan province has announced that it intends to impose an administrative fine of approximately $9 million against Barrick in connection with the incident.
“The safety of our employees, local communities and the environment has always been — and will continue to be — our highest priority,” said Barrick President Kelvin Dushnisky in a statement.
“Following the incident last September, we implemented a comprehensive action plan to strengthen controls and safeguards at the mine, while addressing the root causes of the solution release. These actions include intensified water monitoring, the addition of heating controls and pressure sensing equipment to manage freezing risks, new procedures related to leach pad operations and additional water management controls,” Dushnisky added.
Water samples taken immediately following the incident, and in the months following, demonstrate that the solution release did not pose any risks to the health of communities or the environment downstream from the mine, Barrick said.
These results are consistent with studies ordered by federal and provincial regulators and the provincial court, including those conducted by the National Institute of Water (INA), the National University of San Juan (UNSJ) and the Center for Investigations for the Prevention of Mining and Industrial Contamination (Cipcami).
“We recognise that we have disappointed many of our partners in San Juan province and we deeply regret this incident. The company is committed to ensuring we have robust polices and standards in place that protect the environment at all of our operations,” added Mr Dushnisky.