New mine posts positive results as Chile heads for gold rush

Chile’s potential as a global gold mining force becomes ever more apparent as huge new mine project in the Maricunga Mineral Belt posts positive early results.

The Atacama Pacific Gold Corporation recently released positive results in February in a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on its Cerro Marincunga gold mine project near Copiapó. The exciting finds suggest a strong gold yield over the next decade from one of the largest oxide gold projects on Earth.

Cerro Marincunga, the main Chilean operation of private Canadian company Atacama Pacific, is predicted when operational to produce an annual average gold production of 298,000 oz over five years. Over the mine’s ten year lifespan the mine would produce a total of 2.7 million oz.

«We are very pleased with the robust results from the PEA for our Cerro Maricunga oxide gold deposit,» Carl Hansen, President and CEO of Atacama Pacific, said. «With a processing rate of over 80,000 tons . . . Cerro Maricunga is globally one of the largest oxide gold projects under consideration for development.”

Chile, already the world’s largest producer of copper, has all the potential to become a leading gold producer in the coming decades. According to the United States Geological Survey, Chile mined 45 tons of gold in 2011 and same amount the following year, placing it 15th in the world in terms of gold production.

The country, however, is predicted to have 3,900 tons of gold reserves – the fourth highest in the world, behind Australia (7,400 tons), South Africa (6,000 tons), and Russia (5,000 tons), and ahead of the U.S. (3,000 tons). China is currently the world’s leading gold producer at an average of 324 tons annually, yet the country’s reserve is less than half that of Chile’s at 1,900 tons.

As the price of gold continues to rise, gold mining is an ever more lucrative prospect in Chile, and precious metals are now key to mining industry growth in the country. Chilean gold production is predicted to increase at 4.7 percent annually through 2016.