Mining - Argentina

Cerro Negro on track for mid-2014 production, Argentina issues easing - Goldcorp

Cerro Negro on track for mid-2014 production, Argentina issues easing - Goldcorp

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Vancouver-based Goldcorp's (TSX: G, NYSE: GG) Cerro Negro gold-silver project in Argentina's Santa Cruz province remains on track to start production in mid-2014, capital management VP Russell Ball told a conference call to discuss the company's 2013 results.

Goldcorp has made "significant progress" at the project, with gold production for this year expected at 130,000-180,000oz.

The US$1.6bn-1.8bn initial capital budget remains unchanged, Ball said. While the recent devaluation of the Argentine peso, which Ball said was of about 25%, will be "positive" for capital costs in the short term, it remains "too early to quantify" the impact, given uncertainty over future inflation.

Engineering, procurement and construction management at the processing plant is about 78% complete, Ball said, with some 285,000t ore stockpiled at the end of last year at an average grade of 10.5g/t gold and 206g/t silver.

In October, Goldcorp said it was delaying spending at Cerro Negro, which was previously expected to begin production by the end of 2013, and upped initial capital costs from US$1.35bn to the current estimates.

ARGENTINA ISSUES

Operating in Argentina "may be a little easier" in future, Ball told the call, as the country has eased some of its restrictions on moving money out of the country, while the devaluation of the peso is also positive for Cerro Negro costs.

Additional costs resulting from import restrictions are "largely behind us," CEO Chuck Jeannes added, as the company has already imported nearly all the equipment needed.

Goldcorp also has the Alumbrera mine in Argentina, which produced 117,500oz gold and 90.6Mlb (41,095t) copper in 2013, down from 136,600oz and 112Mlb in 2012.

The company also has mines and projects in Mexico, Chile, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, the US and Canada.