Breakthrough deal in the Tanzania gold sector late last week. With major miner Barrick agreeing to pay the government $300 million and surrender a 16 percent stake in operations in order to end an impasse that’s halted production.
But experiences like that aren’t going to encourage further investment in places like Tanzania. With news this week suggesting that the world’s top gold miners are looking to a new spot for growth projects.
That nation’s mining minister Javier Cordova told local press over the weekend that numerous major mining players are streaming into Ecuador — after new president Lenin Moreno moved last year to remove a moratorium on new mineral licenses, and streamline processes for exploration and mining in the country.
Minister Cordova specifically named two of the world’s largest gold miners: Barrick and Newmont. Saying these gold giants are both currently in talks with the Ecuador government to obtain exploration concessions and set up operations.
And the Minister said those aren’t the only major miners interested in Ecuador. Noting that BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining have all established a presence in-country in recent months.
Neither Barrick nor Newmont would confirm a coming move into Ecuador. But an entry here would make sense for the gold majors, with the country hosting a significant chunk of the Andes mineral belt that has proven extremely productive in neighbouring Peru.
The gold story here is further boosted by recent discoveries like the Cascabel gold-copper porphyry — being drilled out by SolGold Plc in northern Ecuador. With that company having enjoyed a $41 million equity investment backed by Newcrest Mining this past summer.
All of which suggests this is a key spot to watch for gold (and copper) exploration and development. Watch for specific deals being struck by Barrick, Newmont and other miners — and for results from the field as projects get up and going.
Here’s to green fields for greenfields.
By Dave Forest