May 16, 2016 / 2:32 PM / in 2 years

Antofagasta suffers setback on Chile investment plan approval

SANTIAGO, May 16 (Reuters) - Chilean copper miner Antofagasta Plc has suffered a setback as it seeks environmental permit approval for new investment at its Los Pelambres mine in central Chile, but hopes to resolve the issue in coming days.

Earlier this month, the London-listed company’s operating unit, Antofagasta Minerals, submitted a $1.1 billion plan to build new infrastructure, including an improved mill and new desalinization plant, so it can maintain output at the mine at 400,000 tonnes of copper a year.

But a local regulatory body ruled last week it could not consider the submission because the paperwork neglected to define the potential impact the plans might have on nearby communities.

“The study has not been rejected,” Antofagasta told Reuters on Monday. “It’s a paperwork formality that we hope to resolve in coming days.”

Spurred by popular resentment toward mining and energy projects that could be detrimental to the environment, regulators in Chile, the top copper exporter, have become more demanding in recent years, leading some projects to be delayed, and others to be abandoned altogether. (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Rosalba O’Brien; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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