* Akyem gold reserves estimated at 7.2 mln ounces
* Newmont sees production start-up at end 2013
* Estimated to spend $700 mln - $1 bln in capex
(Adds details, background, quote)
ACCRA, March 24 Gold producer Newmont Mining
Corp's NMC.TO board has approved funding for its estimated 7.2
million ounce Akyem gold reserve project, the company said in a
statement on Thursday.
Newmont's director for investor relations Monica Brisnehan
declined to say how much funding was approved, but pointed to
previous numbers released by the company in February which
estimated capital expenditure for the project at between $700
million to $1 billion.
"I caution you that we don't want to reaffirm those
numbers," Brisnehan said by telephone from Toronto, adding that:
"We are not putting the numbers out until Thursday (March 31)."
Brisnehan said Newmont will be hosting an analysts tour in
Ghana next week.
The company has said the Akyem reserve is one of West
Africa's underdeveloped resources and has the potential to
double gold output from the region.
"Right now for Akyem, we have 7.2 million ounces in reserves
as of December 31, and 0.3 million ounces in non-reserve
mineralisation," Brisnehan said.
Newmont had estimated annual production output at 400,000 -
550,000 ounces in the first five years of production, a boost to
Ghana, Africa's second-biggest gold producer after South Africa
with 2,97 million ounces in 2010.
The company said it expected production to come online
either late in 2013 or early 2014.
(Writing by Bate Felix; editing by James Jukwey)