UPDATE 2-Caserones mine in Chile fined for environmental failures

miércoles 18 de marzo de 2015 22:33 GYT

(Adds JX comments, production plan)

SANTIAGO, March 18 (Reuters) - The Japanese-owned Caserones copper mine in northern Chile has been fined $11.9 million for breaching environmental rules, Chile's environmental regulator said on Wednesday.

The fine was for a number of infractions, including failure to implement mitigation measures to prevent the contamination of underground water supplies and the construction of unauthorized transmission lines, said the SMA regulator.

The regulator said it was the second-highest fine it had imposed since it was set up in 2012. The mine, which began commercial operations last year, violated rules in 17 items, eight of which were serious, it said.

"Our country needs initiatives and investments to grow and develop, but they must be very rigorous in complying with environmental obligations," said the regulator head, Cristian Franz, in a statement.

Top copper exporter Chile is battling to maintain its reputation as a place that is friendly for investors, while balancing increasing demands from local communities to safeguard the environment.

Caserones is 77.37 percent-owned by Japan's top copper smelter, Pan Pacific Copper, a business controlled by JX Nippon Mining & Metals under JX Holdings Inc. Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd holds the remainder.

"We have responded to all directives given by the regulator in 2013 and we have implemented all measures and constructed all facilities to comply with rules," said Masayoshi Yamamoto, public relations manager at JX Nippon Mining & Metals in Tokyo.

"We believe this action by the regulator will not affect our mining license or operation of Caserones mine," he said, adding that the fine was partially factored into its profit forecast for this business year that ends on March 31.   Continuación...