Ecuador Lifting Suspensions on Mine Development

Kinross Gold plans to spend $45 million on development of its Fruta del Norte deposit in southeastern Ecuador.
(Photo courtesy of Kinross Gold)
The government of Ecuador moved toward reactivation of mine exploration and development in the country in mid-March 2009, following an 11-month suspension that began in April 2008 while the nation’s mining law was being rewritten. The new law was approved in January. The government is lifting suspensions on a company-by-company, project-by-project basis, with Corriente Resources and Kinross Mining being the first companies to be granted permission to re-activate their projects. As of March 23, companies still awaiting word regarding their projects included Iamgold, Cornerstone Capital Resources, Dynasty Metals & Mining, Ecometals Ltd., International Minerals Corp. and Salazar Resources.

Corriente reported on March 17 that its Ecuador subsidiary had received an official notice from the Ecuador Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, stating that the company was authorized to re-initiate field operations. Corriente and all other companies working in Ecuador will be required to update their environmental permits and water use concessions as a first step toward re-activating their projects.

Corriente holds a 100% interest in four known copper and copper-gold porphyry deposits that are being developed as the Mirador project, which includes the Mirador Norte deposit, and the Panantza- San Carlos project. The company also holds 100% of concession interests covering approximately 430 km2, in which six additional copper exploration targets have been identified. Taken together, the known project deposits and exploration targets represent a potential long-term district development opportunity for large-scale copper-gold mining in southeast Ecuador.

In an interview at Reuters’ Global Mining and Steel Summit, Kinross Gold CEO Tye Burt said Kinross will spend $45 million at its Fruta del Norte project in Ecuador during 2009, “assuming all the lights are green in terms of permits, as they appear to be.” Kinross acquired Fruta del Norte in August 2008 when it acquired Aurelian Resources for $800 million. The deposit has an initial inferred mineral resource of 58.9 million mt grading 7.23 g/mt gold and 11.8 g/mt silver for a total of 13.7 million oz of contained gold and 22.4 million oz of contained silver.

As featured in Womp 2009 Vol 03 -