Canada's Lundin Gold expects output of up to 220,000 oz from Ecuador mine in 2020

QUITO (Reuters) - Canadian miner Lundin Gold Inc expects to produce between 200,000 and 220,000 ounces of gold this year at its Fruta del Norte gold mine in the Ecuadorean Amazon, its head told Reuters, after restarting operations last weekend.

Lundin halted production in March when Ecuador’s government declared a health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic and the firm cut staffing at the site to the mininum required.

Ron Hochstein, Lundin’s chairman and director, said in an interview on Monday that despite the pandemic’s impact this year, the company expects average annual production of 325,000 ounces of gold over the mine’s 14-year life span.

Lundin inaugurated the mine last November as Ecuador’s market-friendly president, Lenin Moreno, sought to attract investment to diversify the stagnant oil-dependent economy. Fruta del Norte, Ecuador’s first large-scale gold mine, contains some 4.8 million ounces of gold in proven reserves.

Ecuador’s mining activity plunged about 60% as authorities imposed harsh quarantine measures to limit the new coronavirus’ spread, but the government in May approved security protocols to allow operations to resume.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Bernadette Baum