A Chilean court on Friday imposed a fresh freeze on sales of part of global miner Anglo American's assets in southern Chile, as a legal dispute with state copper giant Codelco that could last years grinds on.

Santiago's 14th civil court issued an order prohibiting Anglo from selling a 49 percent stake in the southern properties, replacing an earlier injunction that was lifted.

Codelco earlier this month said it had exercised its long-standing option to buy a stake of that size, but Anglo pre-emptively sold a 24.5 percent stake from under it to Japan's Mitsubishi <8058.T>, plunging the mining titans into an increasingly bitter legal battle. A flurry of lawsuits have followed.

Anglo American in London declined to comment on the sales freeze.

Anglo says the sale of a 24.5 percent stake in the assets to Mitsubishi for $5.4 billion (3.5 billion pounds) halved Codelco's option to buy a 49 percent stake in the properties. Codelco, which viewed the move as a snub, disputes that.

Anglo's properties in southern Chile include the flagship expansion project Los Bronces, where Anglo has invested around $2.8 billion; the El Soldado mine; the Chagres smelter; and the Los Sulfatos and San Enrique Monolito exploration projects.

Experts say Anglo American underestimated Codelco's ability to raise financing to buy the assets, and misjudged by investing billions of dollars to develop properties that Codelco had an option to buy into.

They also say Codelco was caught off guard by Anglo's decision to risk its standing in Chile by selling a stake to Mitsubishi -- which Codelco denies.

(Reporting by Erik Lopez. Additional reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Simon Gardner)