LIMA May 21 Peru's top precious metals miner
Buenaventura sees a rise in output in 2013 and said the stalled
$4.8 billion Conga gold mine project it owns a stake in could
advance after a community reservoir is built at the end of the
Buenaventura's Chief Executive Roque Benavides
said on Tuesday during the Reuters Latin America Investment
Summit that the mines the firm owns directly will produce more
than half a million ounces of gold and 18 million ounces of
silver this year.
In 2012 Buenaventura produced 440,996 ounces of gold and 17
million ounces of silver, he said.
"Looking ahead we expect to maintain the level of production
if not raise it slightly, but there won't be any big jumps in
output," Benavides said.
He also said the proposed Conga gold mine in northern Peru -
put on hold last year amid community opposition -
could go forward after construction of the second of four
reservoirs for local towns wraps up at the end of this year.
Newmont Mining Corp is the majority shareholder in
the Conga project, which would be Peru's biggest mining
investment ever. Buenaventura owns a 43.65 percent stake.
Communities say they fear the mine would pollute and deplete
nearby lakes, and Newmont and Buenaventura have halted
construction of mining facilities while they build reservoirs to
assure locals of water supplies.
"We think showing people that they will have more water than
they have today will convince them we're building a good
project," said Benavides.
He said construction of the first reservoir was scheduled to
finish on Monday and that pumping water into the second
reservoir will be a turning point.
The second reservoir will draw water in part from a nearby
lake that locals want to protect.
"If that is viable from a social standpoint we can go
forward with construction of the mine," he said.
Buenaventura, which operates 12 mines in Peru directly, has
been focusing on trimming costs and boosting efficiency as
global metal prices have slipped, Benavides said.
He said he thinks market speculation has driven down the
price of gold.
"I don't see anything that has changed in the gold market to
merit the price falling like this," said Benavides. "I think
there has been an overreaction and am convinced the fundamentals
are there for the price to go up again."
Benavides also said lengthy government approvals and
widespread social conflicts are holding up mining investments in
Peru and contributing to an economic slowdown in recent months.
Peru is a top global producer of copper, gold, silver and
zinc, but its traditional mineral exports have been hit by lower
metal prices. Earlier this month the Andean nation posted its
first quarterly trade deficit in more than four years.
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