Lundin Gold starts mining of first production stope at Fruta del Norte

Aerial view of the crusher and process plant in May 2019. (Image courtesy of Lundin Gold)

Canada’s Lundin Gold (TSX:LUG) has begun mining of the first production stope at its Fruta del Norte gold project in Ecuador.

Construction of the process plant and tailings facility continue to be on schedule, the Vancouver-based miner said, with commissioning of the process plant to begin in the third quarter of this year.

At the end of May, overall construction progress was 73% complete and 88% of the project’s capital expenditure was already committed, the company’s president and CEO, Ron Hochstein, said in a statement.

Lundin has been developing the asset for almost two years, following a 2016 agreement with Ecuador’s government

Underground mine development reached 7.3 km as at May 31, compared to the targeted 7.1 km, while the processing plant reached 80% completion last month.

Wet Commissioning of the initial systems is expected to start in early July and continue throughout the third quarter of this year.

“The majority of process plant operations and maintenance staff have been hired and will participate in the commissioning process,” the miner said.

Lundin Gold, worth almost C$1.5 billion in Toronto, has been developing the asset for almost two years, following a 2016 agreement with Ecuador’s government that allowed it to move ahead with the project.

The company acquired the project in 2015 for $240 million from fellow Canadian miner Kinross Gold (TSX:K) (NYSE:KGC), which had to halt operations after being unable to reach an agreement with authorities regarding the terms for developing the asset.

The underground gold and silver mine, which will be Ecuador’s largest, contains six of Lundin’s 29 mining concessions and covers 70,000 hectares of land. Discovered in 2006, Fruta del Norte is expected to produce 4.6 million ounces of gold over a 15 year mine life.

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