Patagonia Gold gets green light to mine close to Argentina’s southern glaciers

London-based Patagonia Gold (LON:PGD) (TSX:PAT), a South America-focused gold and silver producer, received the full and final permit from the Argentine authorities to develop its Lomada de Leiva gold and silver project.

Full production from the main heap leach is expected by the second quarter of 2013, with a forecast production of 14,000 ounces gold for the second half of the year. Target annual production from the Lomada project is scheduled at 21,000 ounces gold.

The Lomada heap leach is one of Patagonia's three main projects. Its flagship is the Cap-Oeste project and the other one is the nearby COSE ( Cap-Oeste Southeast).

Lomada is located 40 km southeast of the town of Perito Moreno*, in a zone defined by the provincial legislative system  as a “special interest mining area.”

Other companies with operations in sourthern Argentina, such as the world's largest gold company, Barrick Gold (NYSE & TSX: ABX), have encounter opposition and delays for venturing in the area. The reason is a glacier protection law that protects Argentina’s remaining glaciers as well as “periglacial” areas where the ice has recently retreated but water remains below the surface.

First approved by the Argentine Congress in 2008, the glacier protection act was vetoed by President Cristina Fernandez a month later that year. However, in September of 2010, a new version of the act was ratified in the Argentine Senate in a 35 pro, 33 against vote.

Read more on the law that protects glaciers in Argentina >> >>

 * An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the Lomada project was located 40 km southeast of  the Perito Moreno glacier. That is the distance from the town of the same name.