UPDATE 2-Newmont sees Peru Conga gold mine opening by 2015

Tue May 18, 2010 4:45pm EDT

* Newmont sees Conga producing up to 750,000 oz of gold

* Conga reserves at 12 mln gold oz, 3 bln lbs of copper

* Newmont bullish about gold prices in medium term (Adds comments from Newmont VP, bylines, writes through)

By Eduardo Garcia and Teresa Cespedes

LIMA, May 18 (Reuters) - Newmont (NEM.N) expects to open its Conga gold mine in Peru in late 2014 or late 2015, the company's Executive Vice President Guy Lansdown said on Tuesday at an industry conference.

To bring the project into production, Newmont and its partner, Peru's precious metals miner Buenaventura (BUEv.LM) (BVN.N), would need between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion in investments, Lansdown said.

"We look at going into production in late 2014 to late 2015," he told mining executives meeting in Lima for a biannual summit.

He said Conga has reserves of about 12 million ounces of gold and some 3 billion pounds of copper. In the first five years of operation, the mine should produce between 650,000 and 750,000 ounces of gold, and between 160 million and 210 million pounds of copper per year.

Lansdown said that Newmont and Buenaventura are exploring for gold around the Conga project, where they have found several prospective targets. He sees Conga as being a low-cost operation.

The mining executive said Newmont is bullish on gold prices and sees the yellow metal ranging between $900 and $1,300 an ounce in the short-term and even medium-term.

Spot gold XAU= hit an all time high last Friday and analysts say safe-haven trades caused by global economic jitters should keep the metal firm. The metal is up about 20 percent since early February.

Earlier this month, Buenaventura said it and Newmont were considering tying up with Chinese firms Minmetals and Jiangxi for projects in Peru, the world's No. 6 gold producer. [ID:nN06137920]

Minmetals and Jiangxi Copper (600362.SS) are developing the Galeno copper project near Conga.

Newmont and Buenaventura also control the Yanacocha mine in southern Peru, one of Latin America's largest gold mines. (Writing by Terry Wade, Editing by Rene Pastor)

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