Colombian gold miner Mineros de Antioquia is planning to invest US$7.5mn in a new gold processing plant to increase output to 2t/y, company president Beatriz Uribe told BNamericas.
Mineros de Antioquia is currently preparing the paperwork for the environment ministry in order to obtain the required permits for the installation of the unit at El Bagre, which would produce around 600kg/y of gold.
"Once we get the go-ahead from the ministry, it will take 15 months to set up the unit, but what we don't know is how long it will take the ministry to give us the permit," Uribe said.
Meanwhile, the company is pushing ahead with general planning matters, studies and obtaining equipment cost estimates, to be as ready as possible for when the ministry issues the permit.
At El Bagre the company is working the Nechi riverbed and has been exploring down river yielding "such interesting results" that it was thought justified to set up the new processing unit, Uribe said.
Uribe said 2002 was a very good year for the company. "What helped us, apart from good production levels, was that gold prices were well above the previous year's average. The devaluation of the Colombian peso and the fact that almost all of our costs are in pesos also helped," she said.
When asked how the Iraq war would affect gold prices, Uribe said the expected impact has already occurred. "Things are not expected to get significantly better or worse. The general consensus among specialists is that the gold price must be maintained between US$330 and US$340/oz in the medium term. We have estimated our operating costs against a market price of US$320," she added.