Ecuador to sign $1.4 billion copper contract but Kinross gold project stalled

Chinese-owned mining company Ecuacorriente has signed a contract to invest $1.4 billion over five years for extracting copper in Ecuador's southern Amazon, reports local newspaper La Republica.

Nonrenewable Resource Minister Wilson Pastor touts Thursday's agreement as the first in a series of large-scale mining deals and says production could begin as early as 2013.

The contract is the first of its kind in Ecuador, which has no mining industry to speak of. However, President Rafael Correa is keen to draw interest from big miners to start exploiting the country's copper, gold and silver deposits.

"With this project Ecuador will be the world leader in terms of how much revenue it will be obtaining," Pastor told reporters referring to the contract that Ecuacorriente is scheduled to sign on Monday.

In December last year, Toronto-listed Kinross signed a tentative agreement to invest $1.2 billion in the country, according to the Ecuadorian government. However, Kinross now wants to re-negotiate the deal, which has hindered the negotiations, as reported by Mining.com.