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GOLD Fields has formally started construction of the mining infrastructure at its $860m Salares Norte project despite facing challenges related to Covid-19, and in line with the project's announced construction schedule a year ago.
Pre-stripping of the mine and construction of the process plant commenced this month, the company said in an announcement on Friday. The project is due for completion in late 2022 with the first gold production in early 2023.
Once commissioned, the mine will process two million tons of ore per year for the production of doré gold.
Salares Norte is located between 3,900 metres and 4,700m above sea level in the municipality of Diego de Almagro in Chile's Atacama Region. The closest major city is Copiapó, about 330km from the site, said the company.
The project will create approximately 2,700 jobs during the peak of construction, while about 900 employees and contractors will be employed once it becomes operational. Approximately 15% of the construction has been completed to date, including the mining camp for 1,800 people, related infrastructure and access roads.
"The early actions taken in response to the pandemic and our people's commitment enabled us to navigate the challenges of this unprecedented and highly complex situation and remain on track with the production schedule," said Nick Holland, Gold Fields CEO.
Gold Fields announced last week that Holland would step down from the company in April after a 13-year stint as he had reached the company's mandatory age of retirement. He is to be replaced by former CEO of Anglo American Platinum, Chris Griffith.