Ecuador Project Spotlight – El Domo Advances
Ecuador is emerging as a new mining jurisdiction in Latin America. The Ecuadorian Mines and Energy Ministry recently said that the government expects to generate over $4 billion in annual mining exports by 2025 with 4 new operations coming into operation before the end of President Guillermo Lasso’s term in 2025, including the Cascabel project, held by Australia’s SolGold.
The country already has two large-scale mines in production with several more world class deposits advancing towards construction. The latest news being the El Domo project owned by Canadian companies Adventus Mining and Salazar Resources. El Domo is part of the 7 Curipamba concessions covering some 21,500ha, located in central Ecuador’s Bolívar province.
The company recently signed an Investment Contract with the Ecuadorian government that grants several incentives, such as reductions in income tax, exemption of import duties, tax stability, among others, that will last until March 2033.
Now company executives have stated that that they believe construction will start in 2024 after the environmental permits are obtained in the second half of 2023.
El Domo Project Overview
- Owned by Adventus Mining and Salazar Resources, El Domo is an open-pit copper-gold mining operation with proven and probable mineral reserves of 6.47 million tonnes (Mt) grading 2.52g/t gold (Au), 1.93% copper (Cu), 45.69g/t silver (Ag), 0.25% lead (Pb) and 2.49% zinc (Zn).
- The Feasibility Study shows that El Domo can be a low-cost supplier of copper gold and zinc. Cash cost of US$1.14/lb and AISC of US$1.26/lb copper equivalent.
- The feasibility study covers the first 10 years of the mines life but there is a separate underground mine optionality envisioned in years 10 to 14. Currently infilling drilling needs to take place to better define the resources.
- El Domo is a flat-lying tabular shaped VMS deposit, with mineralization beginning at 30 metres from surface and dimensions of approximately 800 x 400 metres.
- The open-pit will be mined using a traditional truck and shovel operation with a contractor mining fleet consisting of drills, shovels, front end loaders, and 40-ton haul trucks.
- The open-pit will be developed in four phases and operate for approximately 10 years of production, with total material movement of 61.8 Mt (6.5 Mt ore and 55.3 Mt waste) at a strip ratio of 8.6 (including pre-stripping) and 6.02 without pre-stripping included.
- The project site will consist of the open-pit mine and mining related workshops, a processing plant, waste rock and conventional tailings facility, and support service infrastructure such as warehousing, offices and workshops.
- The contract for pre-stripping, mining, and construction of the tailing’s facility, waste rock facilities, and associated mine infrastructure was awarded to Stracon-Ripconciv JV. The contract term is for 48 months.
- Water for the mine will be provided from annual rainfall and stored in ponds built on site. The site will be supported by the electrical grid which requires the construction of a 7.1 km 69kV power line. The power grid of Ecuador is supplied mostly by hydro-electric generation.
El Domo will be Ecuador’s third major mining operation after the Mirador copper mine and Lundin Gold’sm Fruta del Norte gold mine. It will be the first of several projects that could be built over the next few years in Ecuador. See project pipeline here.
The signing of the investment agreement with the Ecuadorian government is a good sign for the industry. Solaris Resources, another Canadian company, signed a very similar investment contract last week with the government of Ecuador for its open pit Warintza copper-gold project. The expectation is that this project will announce further progress in 2023.
In terms of El Domo, the operation is expected to bring $376 million in taxes and royalties into the state’s coffers over the 10-year mine life. Exploration continuous on its concessions which could further grow opportunities near the El Domo deposit.
In 2021, the company discovered a new VMS system approximately 4.5km southwest of the El Domo deposit. The first drill hole at Agua Santa intersected 6.34 metres of 1.77% copper, 1.46 g/t gold, 7.45% zinc, 23.2 g/t silver, and 0.24% lead – including 1.40 metres of 1.58% copper, 2.67 g/t gold, 31.20% zinc, 55.0 g/t silver, and 1.01% lead.
For mining service and technology providers, the success of Ecuador could provide significant opportunities that will add to the already large project pipelines in Chile and Peru. All of these countries together create a massive opportunity for METS companies that have interesting services and products.
Ax Legal is an advisory firm that works with foreign companies in Latin America. Our team of legal and commercial advisors have a distinguished track record of helping foreign technology and services companies to grow and operate in Latin America. Over the years, we have worked with starts up, mid-size businesses, and publicly listed companies. The one common factor that connects our clients is that they are leaders in their field, providing innovative technologies and services to the industrial sectors.
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