UPDATE 1-Chile environmental regulator presses charges against Sierra Gorda mine
(Adds comments from company)
SANTIAGO, March 8 (Reuters) - Chile's environmental regulator pressed charges against Sierra Gorda, jointly owned by Poland's KGHM Polska Miedz and Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining, saying the copper mine could be fined up to $29 million and have its license revoked.
The SMA regulator said on Tuesday that Sierra Gorda committed seven "serious" and two "mild" environmental infractions.
Those infractions include not implementing measures to control emissions, altering the natural habitat for native wildlife, and operating a tailings dam in an unauthorized manner.
Sierra Gorda has 10 days to present a compliance plan to the SMA or 15 days to present a legal defense.
Sierra Gorda said it is analyzing the document to prepare actions to address the charges.
"It is fundamental for the company to respond to each of the concerns of the superintendency and ensure a safe, respectful and responsible operation for the environment and communities," Sierra Gorda said in an emailed statement.
The head of the SMA has said that mining companies and others investing in Chile can expect increased scrutiny and sanctions if they break environmental rules, as the regulator is being allocated more resources and more inspectors. ($1 = 682.30 Chilean pesos) (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; editing by Andrew Hay and Diane Craft)
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