Ecuador, which is struggling to rebuild its coastal region following a devastating earthquake in April, approved a contract for the country's largest mining project, in addition to tens of millions of dollars in industrial ventures, the government said.

The Andean country's sectoral production council authorized a contract for Lundin Gold's US$1bn Fruta del Norte gold-silver project in Zamora Chinchipe province, expected to create 2,000 jobs during the construction stage which is expected to get underway next year, government website El Ciudadano reported.

Lundin, which acquired the 5,000ha property from Kinross Gold in October 2014, reached an agreement with the government in January to develop Fruta del Norte in exchange for an advance on royalties. The deposit has probable reserves of 23.5Mt, grading 9.59 g/t, containing 7.26Moz of gold, according to the company website.

Ecuador, which depends on crude oil for half of its national budget, is seeking to drum up more foreign investment after oil prices slumped, slashing government revenue. President Rafael Correa last year created a mining ministry and announced plans to promote 36 mining projects to produce gold, copper and molybdenum estimated to be worth US$200bn.

The council, which met in the port of Guayaquil, also approved projects including Talaresa TLR (lumber), Skyecuador (US$6mn aeronautical plant), Genim (US$4.5mn Andean cereals plant) and Ecuagypsum (US$3.2mn gypsum plant), according to state news agency Andes.

Since November, the council has approved 36 contracts totaling US$1.66bn in investment, expected to create 3,267 jobs, Andes said. A total of 87 oil, cement and construction contracts totaling US$6.42bn were approved from 2012-15, the agency said.


The government also has plans to award US$4.76bn in public-private partnership (PPP) concessions this year: for the Río Siete-Huaquilla, Naranjal-Río Siete, Santo Domingo-Quevedo and Santo Domingo-Esmeraldas highways, President Rafael Correa said during his weekly radio program.

Ecuador, also a major exporter of bananas, shrimp and tuna, earlier this year awarded PPP concessions for the US$1.2bn Posorja and US$750mn Puerto Bolívar ports.


Source: BNamericas