Newmont Mining announced on June 22 it will implement international audit recommendations made in April regarding development of the Minas Conga open-pit gold-copper project in Cajamarca province, Peru. The project is owned by Minera Yanacocha, which is owned 51.35% by Newmont, 43.65% by Buenaventura, and 5% by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. The company will take a slower development approach to the project, building water reservoirs ahead of construction of mining facilities, the statement said. The reservoirs will supply water to downstream users who currently have water flowing only during the rainy season.

Newmont suspended construction at Minas Conga in November 2011 as a result of ongoing, sometimes-violent, protests. The project had received development approval from its owners at the end of July 2011. Capital costs to develop the project are estimated at more than $4 billion, and production is planned to be in the range of 600,000 to 700,000 oz/y of gold and 160,000 to 240,000 lb/y of copper.

In the company’s most recent statement, Carlos Santa Cruz, Newmont’s senior vice president South American Operations, said, “We reaffirm that we are committed to Cajamarca and Peru. We share president Humala’s appeal for dialogue. The construction of water reservoirs will contribute to strengthening our relationship with Cajamarca, while demonstrating that modern and responsible mining can protect the environment and improve quality of life within the area of influence of the project through economic and infrastructure development.”

The Minas Conga project involves surface mining of a large copper-gold porphyry deposit 24 km northeast of Minera Yanacocha’s currently-operating Yanacocha gold mine. The Yanacocha mine is the largest gold mine in South America, with production in 2011 totaling 1.29 million oz.