Peru forges ahead with $4.8 billion gold, copper mine project

Nov. 3, 2011 at 3:18 PM
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LIMA, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Peru is forging ahead with a gold and copper mine that entails international partnerships and promises to catapult the country higher into the precious metal producers' big league.

Boosting gold output is high on Peru's agenda and the government has pursued the goal with the aim of becoming the world's fifth largest gold producer -- again.

Currently Peru is the sixth largest and exports nearly 60 percent of its output but has ranked in the past as the fifth largest producer. Other large producers are South Africa, Russia, Australia, the United States and China.

Yanacocha, a joint venture between the U.S. Newmont Mining Corp. and Peru's Buenaventura is developing the $4.8 billion Conga mine, likely to be the largest investment of its kind in the Latin American country's mining sector.

Minas Conga, in the northern region of Cajamarca, will produce 580,000-680,000 ounces of gold per year for its first five years.

The mine should also produce 155 million-234 million pounds of copper per year when it starts producing in 2014.

Yanacocha says it is looking to produce 2.5 million ounces of gold per year by 2017, about double the current output.

Yanacocha has enlisted partnerships with other companies for various parts of the project for developing the mines complex.

Newmont Mining Corp., which has headquarters in Denver, is one of the world's largest producers of gold which has seen its position bolstered by the upsurge in gold prices.

Fluor Corp., another partner in the project, said it received a full notice to proceed with the earthworks at the mine, in which Fluor heads a joint venture with Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht.

Fluor is providing engineering, procurement and construction services for the project and has already taken part in the previous four stages of the development.

The project involves the development of two open pit mines including waste rock handling and ore stockpiles, process facilities to treat copper and gold ore to produce a concentrate product, infrastructure, water management, roads, camps and offices.

When complete, the Conga project will mine and process about 570 million tons of ore from two gold and copper porphyry deposits at an average altitude of about 13,000 feet above sea level in the Peruvian Andes.

Problems in Peru's mining sector led to decline in gold yield, demoting the Latin American nation in the global league of countries that mine, refine and export gold. However, energetic government measures are set to give Peru a push again, senior Peruvian government officials told a symposium devoted to the precious metal in May.

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