SAN JUAN, Argentina Mining authorities in northern Argentina's San Juan province have approved the environmental impact study (EIS) for Canadian miner BARRICK GOLD's Veladero gold project.
"With this approval it is possible to obtain the necessary permits to proceed with construction and related works," said a San Juan province mining official. Barrick previously said that it would start construction as soon as the EIS was approved. It will develop the project through its Mineral Argentina subsidiary.
Investment of US$455 million will be required to develop Veladero, located at between 3,900 and 4,540 metres above sea level near the border with Chile and 300 km from provincial capital San Juan. It is forecast to produce 530,000 oz of gold annually for 13 years beginning in 2006, with direct costs of US$155/oz. The company has already invested about US$25 million in access roads to the project. In addition, Barrick has already placed orders to the tune of US$50 million with Caterpillar and other mine equipment suppliers for the initial mine fleet.
Barrick's other project in the area is Pascua Lama straddling the Chilean border. This is currently projected to produce 800,000 oz of gold yearly beginning in 2008. Capital costs for this mine are US$1.2 billion.