Colombia gold mine Buritica, which the government hopes will boost production of gold by 25% as it looks to diversify mining away from coal, opened on Friday in a ceremony attended by President Ivan Duque.
Buritica, operated by Zijin-Continental Gold, a subsidiary of Chinese company Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd, is Colombia’s first large-scale underground gold project and will initially produce 240,000 ounces of gold a year.
Buritica in Colombia’s Antioquia province, has faced security issues in the past. In September 2018 four workers were killed by gunmen, prompting then-owner Continental Gold to increase security.
Last December Zijin Mining agreed to buy Canadian Continental Gold for around $1 billion.
The inauguration brings to a close more than three years of construction, which saw investment of $610 million. Buritica will enter commercial operation in December, generating more than 2,300 direct and indirect jobs.
“I’m pleased that we as a country realize mining can be done while following all social and environmental protocols,” Duque said during the opening ceremony.
During the forecast 14 years of operations, the mine will bring Colombia about $794 million in taxes and royalties, the company said.
“Buritica is synonymous with legal mining, done well, which generates employment, complies with all legal requirements, and with environmental, safety and health standards at work,” Chung Wang, Zijin’s executive president for Colombia, said in a statement.
Four major projects for the exploration and production of gold and copper, including Buritica, will be fundamental for Colombia’s mining industry as it looks to reduce its dependence on coal, Minister of Mines and Energy Diego Mesa has said.
Gold production in Colombia was 36.6 tonnes in 2019.
(By Luis Jaime Acosta and Oliver Griffin; Editing by Grant McCool)