Chile to Triple Gold Production by 2015

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"Much of Chile's current production is byproduct output from the country's huge copper mining industry"

According to research undertaken by the state organization, the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco), the country's gold production could triple by 2015, putting the South American nation possibly into the world's top seven global producers.

Chile's current gold production is put at 39.2 tonnes, but new developments and expansions—most notably Barrick's Pascua Lama project—could bring output to 103 tonnes by 2015. Indeed this could even be an underestimation with a number of other potential projects waiting in the wings.

Much of Chile's current production is byproduct output from the country's huge copper mining industry, the world's largest, but more recent discoveries of potential gold/copper orebodies high in the Andes, which have been made viable by the big recent increase in the gold price, could mean that the country's output increases substantially in the years ahead. However the big problem at the moment is the shortage of capital for major gold developments of this type which require billions of dollars to get them on stream.

Typical of these potential projects is Barrick and Kinross's Cerro Casale project in the Maricunga region where the resource is put at 23 million ounces of gold and 6 million pounds of copper but the capital cost of developing the mine is put at $3.65 billion. Kinross already has its Maricunga deposit (formerly Refugio), in production nearby and between the two is 's Caspiche exploration project, which has defined a resource containing 19.6 million ounces of gold and 4.84 billion pounds of copper. This would again be a multibillion dollar project, but Exeter is looking at a lower cost option involving the exploitation of a higher-grade core section.

This is a particularly interesting region of Chile for potential high tonnage, low grade, gold projects, mostly with copper as a byproduct.

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