4 years and $100 million later
By Latin American Herald Tribune Staff
CARACAS -- Venezuela will take over Canadian miner Crystallex's Las Cristinas gold project, in the latest wave of expropriation of foreign operations by socialist leader Hugo Chavez.
Venezuela's mining ministry said the government aimed to start up the mine next year.
"This mine will be recovered and will be operated under state administration," the ministry said in a statement.
Crystallex, which operates the project under a contract, has waited for over 4 years for permission to begin mining the Las Cristinas deposit, located in a huge forest reserve in southeastern Venezuela.
Las Cristinas is estimated to have about 31 million ounces of gold ore, valued at about $35 billion, the Mining and Basic Industries Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.
Crystallex indicated in May that it had already spent about $100 million of the $300 million budgeted for the Las Cristinas project.