QUITO – The Ecuadorian government on Wednesday signed a contract with Canada’s Lundin Gold company to exploit a gold and silver deposit in the southeastern Amazon province of Zamora Chinchipe.
Mining Minister Javier Cordova signed the deal to extract the precious metals as part of the Fruta del Norte project in the Yantzatza region.
With an investment of $1 billion, the Canadian firm plans to dig and then operate an underground mine, along with a processing center to extract the precious metals, with the reserves at the site calculated to be some 9.8 million ounces of gold and 15 million ounces of silver, Cordova said.
The project, he said, is considered to be “one of the most important undeveloped gold deposits in Latin America and the world,” and it will be carried out strictly respecting the nearby communities and the environment.
“The signing of this contract is a landmark in industrial mining in Ecuador,” said Cordova, while Lukas Lundin, the president of the Lundin Gold board of directors, said that the project is being followed internationally.
He said that, after preparing the mine, the facilities and processing plant, estimates are that the first minerals will be produced in early 2020.
The Canadian businessman expressed his company’s commitment to making Fruta del Norte a “great success,” especially for the communities in the area near the mine, which will benefit from construction of roads, educational and health facilities.
Attending the contract signing ceremony, which was held at the Ecuadorian vice presidential offices in Quito was Vice President Jorge Glas.
Glas said that the project will pay some $1.28 billion in taxes and will generate some $5.3 billion in mineral exports, along with providing 2,000 direct jobs during the construction phase, 900 jobs during the production phase and some 7,000 indirect jobs.