Lundin Gold says it has begun mining its first production stope at the Fruta del Norte gold project in Ecuador, with commissioning of the process plant set to begin in the September quarter of this year.
Ron Hochstein, Lundin Gold’s President and CEO, said the latest news marked another important milestone for the project.
“At the end of May, overall construction progress was 73% complete and 88% of the project’s capital expenditure was committed,” he said, adding: “The team continues to make great progress as we head towards our first gold pour later this year.”
Underground mine development reached 7.3 km as at May 31, versus a target of 7.1 km, Lundin Gold noted. Owner’s mine crews started mining the first transverse long hole production stope on June 16, and owner mining is planned to continue to ramp up with additional crews being added as more production stope faces become available, the company said.
The company continued: “Critical path work on development to the South Vent Raise was 74 days ahead of plan at the end of May. Raise bore equipment is in country and is being transported and assembled, with drilling of the pilot hole expected to commence in early July. The first underground paste backfill delivery hole has also been completed.”
The process plant for the 3,500 t/d project, meanwhile, reached 80% completion at the end of May, with all major pieces of process equipment installed. Wet commissioning of the initial systems is expected to start in early July and continue throughout the September quarter, the company said. The majority of process plant operations and maintenance staff have been hired and will participate in the commissioning process.
In terms of the powerline for the project, Lundin Gold said this was 88% complete at the end of May, and agreements had been reached on all easements required to complete its construction. “Cable stringing is at 65% completion and the Bomboiza substation construction reached 40% completion at the end of May,” the company said. “The project’s power supply system remains on target for energisation before hot commissioning later in the third (September) quarter of this year.”
Tailings dam construction has reached the elevation required for tailings systems commissioning to begin, according to Lundin Gold. Work is continuing to progress on schedule to reach the final starter dam elevation required for operations, the company explained.