Anglo American (LON: AAL) has resumed this week its field and community programs at the Pegasus gold-copper project in Ecuador, in which it can build a 60% stake by spending $57.3 million over seven years.
The diversified miner and the asset’s owner, Canadian precious and base metals firm Luminex Resources (TSX-V: LR), inked an earn-in deal in 2018. The agreement gives Anglo incrementing ownership of a joint venture company that indirectly holds three copper and gold concessions in Ecuador — Pegasus A, Pegasus B and Luz.
Anglo can earn an additional 10% ownership interest in the venture by funding all the required work up to a decision to construct a mine at the properties, which would take its aggregate ownership to 70%.
Luminex noted that Anglo American returned to the field only this month after team members were vaccinated and strict covid-19 protocols were established.
The global miner is currently re-engaging with local communities in the project area in order to secure the social license to drill test multiple, quality copper, gold and molybdenum targets in the second half of 2022.
Ecuador has gained ground as a mining investment destination over the past three years. Its first large-scale mining operations, Lundin Gold’s (TSX: LUG) Fruta del Norte, began production in 2019. The mine produced more than 200,000 ounces of gold last year.
The South American nation expects another four major mining projects to start production by the end of President Guillermo Lasso’s first term in 2025.
Chinese-owned Mirador mine is working on an expansion to lift output beyond the asset’s current capacity of 130,000 tonnes a year of copper.
SolGold (LSE, TSX: SOLG), backed by BHP and Newcrest, is advancing the proposed Cascabel copper-gold mine. The project, one of the most ambitious mining developments in Ecuador, is expected to begin production in 2025.
Three gold concessions to Canadian firms – Dundee Precious Metals’ Loma Larga, Atico Mining Corp’s La Plata, and Adventus Mining Corp’s Curipamba – are in the advanced exploration stage and should begin production in 2023, the Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources Ministry said earlier this month.
Ecuador’s authorities expect exports of mineral resources to reach $1.6 billion this year, up 74% from 2020.