Gold Fields taps RBC for potential sale of stake in Chilean gold project

The Salares Norte gold project is located in the Atacama region of northern Chile. (Image courtesy of Gold Fields)

South African miner Gold Fields (JSE, NYSE: GFI) is said to have hired investment bank RBC Capital Markets to explore the sale of a 30% stake in its Salares Norte gold project, in Chile’s northern Atacama region.

The company, which received environmental approval for the construction of the mine last month, has been looking for a partner to develop the project since November.

Chief executive Nick Holland said at the time the intention was for Gold Fields to retain a majority stake, adding that a decision about whether to move forward would be made in the first half of 2020. 

Discovered in 2011, Salares Norte is one of five gold projects set to begin operations in Chile over the next three years

Discovered in 2011, Salares Norte is one of five gold projects set to begin operations in the South American nation over the next three years.

The asset hosts 5.2 million ounces of gold, 39.2 million ounces of silver and 695 million pounds of copper.

Construction is estimated to cost $834 million and generate 2,700 jobs up to the end of 2022, if it gets the board’s approval. About 900 workers would be employed when the mine is operational, Gold Fields said.

Once up and running, Salares Norte would generate 450,000 gold ounces a year over a 12-year mine life.

Chile’s gold production peaked in 2000 at 54.1 tonnes, data from the country’s copper commission, Cochilco, shows. The nation, the No.1 copper producer and second-largest lithium producer after Australia, currently ranks 16th among the world’s top gold producing nations, according to IndexMundi.com

Other gold projects set to come online in Chile by 2023 are Kinross Gold’s La Coipa Restart, Yamana Gold’s El Peñón expansion, Canada’s Rio2’ Fenix and Australia’s Kingsgate Consolidated’s Nueva Esperanza.

With files from Reuters.

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