The South African miner Gold Fields has officially started construction of the mining infrastructure in the $ 860 million Salares Norte gold mine in northern Chile.

The company began pre-stripping the gold-silver project this month as well as building the process facility.

Construction work on the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, and production is expected to begin in early 2023.

Once commissioned, the mine will be able to process two million tons of ore annually to produce Doré gold.

Gold Fields said it had completed nearly 15% of the construction work, including the 1,800-person mining camp, associated infrastructure and access roads.

Nick Holland, CEO of Gold Fields, said the company had met the mine construction schedule despite the challenges to the safety of its employees and contractors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Holland said: “The early actions taken in response to the pandemic and the dedication of our staff have enabled us to meet the challenges of this unprecedented and highly complex situation and to meet the production schedule.”

The Salares Norte project is expected to create almost 2,700 construction jobs in its peak phase.

As soon as the mine goes into operation, Gold Fields expects around 900 employees and contractors.

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Salares Norte project manager Max Combes said: “A project like Salares Norte creates a very valuable production chain in the industry and significant economic opportunities in the region.”

“The project aims to use sustainable technologies that reduce the ecological footprint. This includes solar PV power and filtered residues to optimize water consumption. ”

It is located approximately 190 km from Diego de Almagro in a 1,800 hectare concession area.

Last year, Gold Fields selected Fluor to provide engineering, procurement and construction management (EPC) services for the Salares Norte project.

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