Barrick names new executive director for Pascua-Lama

Barrick names new executive director for Pascua-Lama

Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX), the world's largest listed miner of the precious metal, announced Thursday it has appointed Sergio Fuentes as executive project director for Pascua Lama gold and silver project in South America.

The news come only a day after the project executive director in Chile, Eduardo Flores, told local media that Barrick was hopeful it could find a way forward with the long-delayed mine, which straddles the border with Argentina.

Pascua-Lama has been halted for over a year over a mix of issues, including permitting problems, higher-than-expected costs and a sharp drop in gold prices. Pascua Lama has also faced thestrong and organized opposition of the local indigenous communities, which pushed the company to officially mothball it in July.

And while still hopeful, the Toronto based miner said a decision to restart the project will depend on resolution of permitting and legal matters in Chile as well as improved project economics. "The company will only proceed with construction if the project meets minimum return-on-investment thresholds," the company said.

The newly appointed executive director was most recently vice president,  projects for Codelco —the world's No.1 copper producer — and has nearly 30 years of experience in the industry, with a proven track record of engineering, optimizing and constructing complex mining projects, including high-altitude operations in the Andes, the company added.

Fuentes will focus on optimizing detailed engineering, improving the project’s economics and developing a robust execution plan for remaining construction activities at Pascua-Lama in an environmentally responsible manner.

The company plans to apply for a new water permit for the project in the first quarter of 2015, co-president Kelvin Dushnisky said last month.