Construction of the US$860 million project is scheduled to finish in late 2022. (Photo: Gold Fields)

Gold Fields began construction of the mining infrastructure at its Salares Norte project, in line with the project’s construction schedule announced in February last year. This month, prestripping works at the mine and construction of the processing plant began.

Construction of the $860 million project is scheduled to finish in late 2022, with first gold production expected in early 2023. Once commissioned, the mine will process 2 million tons of ore per year for the production of gold doré.

Salares Norte is located between 3,900 meters (m) and 4,700 m above sea level, in the municipality of Diego de Almagro in the Atacama Region, northern Chile. The closest major city is Copiapó, about 330 kilometers (km) from the site. The project will create approximately 2,700 jobs during peak construction, while some 900 employees and contractors will be employed once it goes live.

About 15% of the total construction has been completed to date, including the 1,800-person mining camp, related infrastructure and access roads.

Max Combes, project director, said Salares Norte was good news for Chile and the economy of the Atacama Region. “A project like Salares Norte generates a very valuable production chain in the industry along with important economic opportunities in the region,” Combes said.

The project will use sustainable technologies that reduce its environmental footprint, including photovoltaic solar energy and filtered tailings to optimize water use, according to Combes.