U.S., Canadian firms develop new gold mine

Feb. 19, 2013 at 1:50 PM   |   Comments

BUENOS AIRES, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A new gold mine on the Argentine-Chilean border is being developed by Fluor Corp. and Barrick Gold Corp. of Toronto, the world's largest gold mining company.

Fluor said it received new mining work contracts from Barrick Gold for development work on the Pascua-Lama mine astride the countries' border.

Chile is one of the largest gold producers and Argentina is hoping to catch up with mineral resources development at varying levels but investors point out the countries have different ways of working with foreign investors.

Chile has a liberal investment regime but Argentina is often criticized for restrictive practices toward investors and foreign businesses.

Fluor booked the undisclosed value of the project into its backlog in the fourth quarter of 2012.

A continuing strength of gold prices has revived interest in the metal's extraction and development across the world. Although at a 6-month low, mainly due to the U.S. dollar's recovery, gold still commands around $1,600 per troy ounce, as trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange indicates.

Fluor will carry out site construction and also conduct overall project management on both sides of the border. That involves work on the Pascua location on the Chilean side and the Lama location on the Argentina side.

Work on the Argentina segment will be part of a 50-50 joint venture with Argentinean contractor Techint.

"Pascua-Lama is one of the most significant and challenging mining projects currently under way in the world," Rick Koumouris, Fluor's business line lead for mining and metals said.

He said Fluor was "very pleased" to continue its relationship with Barrick Gold.

"The Pascua-Lama mining project will draw on all of Fluor's capabilities and resources and is emblematic of what Fluor excels at -- large, remote, complex projects."

The companies worked together on Pueblo Viejo project in the Dominican Republic where Fluor was contracted by Barrick Gold to carry out work on that Central American nation's largest foreign investment.

The project involved a new processing facility for one of the largest gold resources in the world earmarked for development.

The Pascua-Lama mine site straddles the Cordilera border region of Argentina and Chile, in the Andes mountains at elevations ranging from 12,465 feet to 17,000 feet.

The mine is expected to produce an average of 800,000-850,000 ounces of gold and 35 million ounces of silver in its first full five years of operation.

Fluor Corp. has headquarters in Irving, Texas. More than 100 years old, the company earned $24.3 billion in 2011 and employs 43,000 people worldwide.

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