SANTIAGO, April 22 (Reuters) - A Chilean court ruled on Wednesday that the tailings dam for Antofagasta Minerals’ flagship Los Pelambres copper mine is safe, though a separate appeal has not yet been decided on a judge’s ruling to demolish the facility that holds refuse left over from the extraction process.
The massive tailings dam is at the center of a conflict with the local Caimanes community in central Chile, which claims it has dried up a local stream and contaminated underground water.
The La Serena appeals court unanimously rejected a lawsuit presented by residents of Caimanes that said the tailings dam was unsafe.
“This ruling backs our conviction that the El Mauro tailings dam does not represent a risk for people’s safety and health,” said the mine’s chairman Francisco Veloso.
Separately, Antofagasta is appealing another judge’s ruling that said the company needs to destroy part, or all, of the tailings dam wall. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Gregorio)