SAN JUAN, Argentina Toronto-based BARRICK GOLD plans to invest US$35-40 million this year in major construction contracts at its Veladero gold project in the northwest Argentine province of San Juan, said a company official.
"We expect to get going again this coming September-October with plans to build the road and camp", said Barrick spokesperson Vince Borg.
Construction at the mine site, at an altitude of 4,200 m in the Andes Mountains near the Chilean border, is currently on hold through the Southern Hemisphere winter. Road building is underway in the low altitude areas, said Borg. Barrick envisages working through the 2004 winter season once the camp has been built, probably by the second quarter of that year, he said.
Veladero is a US$425 million investment which will produce 530,000 oz of gold annually for 13 years at cash costs of US$155/oz. "We will probably start production in the first quarter of 2006", said Borg.
According to the feasibility study, released in October 2002, the project will involve two open pit mines and a two-stage crushing circuit. Conventional valley-heap leach technology and Merrill-Crowe recovery will be used.
The proposed mines feasibility and environmental studies are currently being reviewed by Argentine regulators and permitting is expected to be received in the next couple of months, said Borg. The company still needs to complete project financing, he added.
Construction work on the installations themselves will employ 2,000 workers directly. Once in full production the mine will employ 800 operatives.
Barrick is the world's third largest gold producer and maintains it web site at www.barrick.com.