Canadian Mining Journal


Lundin Gold prepares to drill high-priority target near Fruta del Norte

The Fruta del Norte gold mine in Ecuador in September 2019. Credit: Lundin Gold

The Fruta del Norte gold mine in Ecuador in September 2019. Credit: Lundin Gold

With its Fruta del Norte gold mine in Ecuador ramping up to full production after a three-month suspension related to COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year, Lundin Gold is preparing to start a 6,000-metre drill program at its Barbasco gold-silver target, 7 km south of the mine, in the fourth quarter.

The company recently received an exploration permit for the Emperador concession, which hosts the 3.8-km-long Barbasco target.

Both Barbasco and Fruta del Norte are located within the 16-km-long Suarez pull-apart basin. Work so far, including soil and rock samples indicating anomalous levels of epithermal pathfinder elements and the results of a ZTEM (resistivity) geophysical survey, indicate the Barbasco target is similar to Fruta del Norte.

“Our exploration strategy is focused on our highly prospective land package and receipt of this permit means we can finally drill known targets starting with Barbasco,” said Ron Hochstein, Lundin Gold’s president and CEO. “Our strategy is to systematically explore the basin as we believe that the geological conditions that led to the formation of Fruta del Norte could also exist elsewhere within this structure.”

Barbasco is the highest priority target of 10 gold-silver targets Lundin has identified within the Suarez pull-apart basin.

Fruta del Norte achieved commercial production in February before operations were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Operations resumed in early July, with total production for 2020 now estimated at 200,000 to 220,000 oz. gold. All-in sustaining costs for the second half of the year at the underground mine are expected to be between US$750 and US$850 per oz.

The mine, Ecuador’s first large-scale gold operation, is expected to produce 310,000 oz. gold per year for 15 years. Reserves currently stand at 17.8 million tonnes grading 8.74 g/t gold for 5 million oz.

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