Ecuador expects four major mining projects to start production by the end of President Guillermo Lasso’s first term in 2025, as the conservative leader seeks to diversify the economy before oil exports, the natural resources ministry said on Friday.
Lasso, a former banker who took office in May, is seeking to attract private investment to boost the economy after a deep recession last year exacerbated the government’s cash crunch. Ecuador has abundant mineral reserves, but has lagged Andean neighbors Peru and Chile in developing large-scale mines.
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 in its statement.
The Cascabel concession, controlled by Australia’s SolGold PLC, is expected to begin copper production in 2025, the ministry added.
Many major mining projects in Ecuador have encountered opposition from local communities and some have struggled with occupations by informal miners, which have slowed down their development.
The South American country’s first large-scale copper mine, the Mirador project operated by a subsidiary of Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan, began production in mid-2019. Its first major gold mine, Canadian miner Lundin Gold Inc’s Fruta del Norte projects, started up in November of that year.
Ecuador’s authorities expect exports of mineral resources to reach $1.6 billion this year, up 74% from 2020.
(By Alexandra Valencia and Luc Cohen; Editing by David Gregorio)