Chile’s environmental regulator took decisive action on Tuesday by imposing a hefty fine of $9 million on Lundin’s [LUN:CN] Caserones copper mine for serious water-use violations, as reported by Reuters on August 1. The Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) revealed that the mine’s failure to comply with regulations had significant repercussions on the quality of both surface water and groundwater in the Ramadillas River basin. This decision came after the SMA conducted multiple inspections between 2015 and 2018, prompted by complaints from Colla indigenous communities. The investigations revealed substantial breaches, leading to the classification of two infractions as serious violations against the project’s environmental impact assessment (RCA).
Following the regulatory blow, Lundin, the owner of Caserones, has the option to challenge the SMA’s decision by submitting an appeal within five business days or alternatively, filing a claim to the first environmental court within 15 business days. In a related development earlier in the year, Lundin signed a significant agreement with JX Nippon Mining & Metals, selling 51% of Lumina Copper, the entity that holds ownership of Caserones, for a substantial sum of USD950m. The buyer, JX Nippon Mining & Metals, is a subsidiary of the prominent Japanese oil and metals conglomerate, Eneos Holdings [5020:JP]. Despite these business developments, Caserones’ reputation has been tarnished by the recent fine, as the mine produced around 125,000 tons of copper in 2022 amid growing concerns about its environmental impact.