October 14, 2016 / 5:01 PM / 2 years ago

Antofagasta says there are errors in regulator's charges, will present defense

SANTIAGO, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Chile’s Antofagasta Minerals on Friday took issue with charges brought by the government accusing its Los Pelambres copper mine of violating environmental regulations and said the company will present a legal defense in the coming days.

The company said there were factual errors in the charges brought on Thursday by the SMA environmental regulatory agency accusing Antofagasta Minerals of mismanaging water resources and nearby plant life, but did not elaborate.

“Although we have not been informed (of the charges) in an official manner, in many of the areas mentioned by the SMA press release there has been work ongoing for months, even years, to search alongside official bodies for ways to guarantee total compliance with environmental regulations,” Francisco Veloso, the mine’s chairman, said in a statement.

The punishment for the nine alleged infractions could be a fine of up to $23.8 million, or even the temporary or permanent closure of the mine, though the latter options are unlikely.

While the company did not give a specific date for presenting its defense, its legal deadline is 15 days after its official notification.

Antofagasta’s London-listed shares were down 3.6 percent on the day as of 1711 London time (1611 GMT).

The Los Pelambres mine, located in Chile’s north-central Coquimbo region, produced 375,800 tonnes of copper in 2015. (Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Will Dunham)

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