A Chilean court said on Wednesday it has suspended construction of what would be one of the world's biggest gold mines, accepting a complaint filed by indigenous groups on environmental grounds.

The complaint against the project launched in 2009 by Canadian mining company Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold producer, cited concerns over possible damage to a river, according to the ruling by the Santiago Appeals Court, which was seen by AFP and issued Tuesday night.

The unfinished Pascua Lama gold mine straddles the Chilean-Argentine border. The project has seen stiff resistance from environmental groups and local communities.

Barrick had expected production to begin in the first six months of 2014.

The order suspends construction of the open-pit mine while the court studies the broader environmental issues.

The complaint was filed by the Diaguita indians, a small community based in northern Chile.

It said that the construction work "has generated a situation of imminent environmental danger" for the Estrecho River.