Argentina will spend a couple of weeks analyzing a plan submitted by Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) and its new Chinese partner to make improvements to its Veladero gold mine after the third cyanide spill in 18 months.
Approval of the plan will depend on what Barrick and new partner Shangdong Gold Mining Co. can promise in terms of investment in safety and environmental gains.
Some operations continue at the mine, but Barrick is temporarily restricted from adding cyanide to the facility.
The sale of half the mine to Shangdong has spurred optimism in the area. "What we know about Shandong is that it is a company that has extensive experience meeting the highest environmental standards, which we believe will contribute to the improvement of the Veladero mine," says provincial mining minister Alberto Hensel.
Barrick was filed $9.8M for a 2015 spill; penalties on the latest spill could exceed that, and a fine hasn't yet been applied for a September 2016 cyanide incident.