Chile files charges against mining company for giant sinkhole

SANTIAGO, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Chile's environmental regulator announced on Thursday four charges against Canadian-owned Lundin copper mine for a sinkhole that appeared in the northern area of the country in late July.

The country's SMA environmental regulator said the main infractions were overextraction and construction outside of environmentally approved zones.

Emanuel Ibarra, the SMA superintendent, said in a statement that the regional office's investigation linked the sinkhole on the mine's property with ore overextraction.

"In addition, when the event occurred, large amounts of water began to leak into the mine from places where the company intervened beyond what was considered in the environmental assessment," Ibarra said.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Canada's Lundin Mining Corp owns 80% of the property, while the remaining 20% is held by Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corp.

In mid-August, the SMA ordered "urgent and transitory" measures while investigating the causes of the 36.5-meter-diameter (120 feet) hole in Tierra Amarilla, some 665 km (413 miles) north of the capital.

The alleged overextraction was labeled as a "serious" infraction while modified mining infrastructure that could cause "irreparable environmental damage" to an aquifer was labeled "Very serious."

The two minor charges were related to infractions in transporting minerals.

The company risks fines equivalent to more than $13 million, closure or having its environmental permit revoked. (Reporting Fabian Cambero; Writing by Alexander Villegas Editing by Alistair Bell)