Xstrata unit to resubmit EIS to Chile for 600-MW Rio Cuervo

Energia Austral, a Chilean unit of Swiss miner Xstrata, says it will resubmit an environmental impact study (EIS) to Chilean authorities who rejected the initial EIS for the 600-MW Rio Cuervo hydroelectric project.

Energia Austral’s first EIS for the US$600 million project, submitted in January, was rejected by Chile’s Region XI environmental regulator, Corema, as “lacking relevant and essential information.” (HNN 4/2/07)

The company said April 17 it plans to resubmit the revised study “as soon as possible.”

“Energia Austral once again reaffirms its commitment to the Rio Cuervo project as it is convinced it can become a relevant part of the solution Chile needs in terms of its long-term energy requirements,” it said.

Xstrata inherited the Rio Cuervo project when it bought Canadian miner Falconbridge in 2006. It hopes to bring it on line in 2012 on the Cuervo River.

Corema President Viviana Betancourt said regional agencies found that essential information for evaluating the EIS was not included in the filing. Environmental groups have filed objections to Rio Cuervo with Chile’s national environment commission, Conama.

Falconbridge merged in mid 2005 with Noranda, which originally planned to build three hydro plants — a 740-MW Rio Cuervo, 54-MW Lago Condor, and 360-MW Rio Blanco — to supply its US$3 billion Alumysa aluminum plant project. But development was halted after the government, under pressure from salmon farmers and environmental groups, rejected the aluminum plant.

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