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SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's environmental regulator said on Tuesday it had launched a sanction process against Glencore's Lomas Bayas copper mine for noncompliance with water, flora and fauna monitoring in its operation area.
An investigation led to the formulation of a "very serious" charge of not monitoring aquifer levels and a minor charge of not having defined the river's hydrologic and biotic profile, Chile's Environmental Superintendent (SMA) said in a statement.
The SMA said the mine was missing records on an observation well and hadn't properly graphed measurements like water depth, pH, temperature and water conductivity in the aquifer. The government also said it had failed to establish permanent monitoring stations on the river.
Chile's water authority filed the complaint with the SMA, citing a decrease in the number of Loa water frogs, a critically endangered species.
According to Chilean law, "very serious" infractions can lead to the revocation of environmental permits, mine closures or fines of up to the equivalent of $8 million.
Glencore, an Anglo-Swiss mining and trading firm, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the matter. Its Lomas Bayas mine, located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, produced 64,300 tonnes of copper in 2021.
The company has 10 business days to present a compliance program and 15 business days to formulate arguments.
In February, the company submitted a request to extend use of the deposit and preserve a production capacity of 80,000 tonnes of copper per year, with investments of $250 million.
(Reporting by Fabián Andrés Cambero; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Paul Simao)