Crews have started mining the first transverse long hole production stope. (Photo: Lundin Gold)

Lundin Gold Inc. announced it has begun mining of its first production stope at its Fruta del Norte gold project in Ecuador. Construction of the process plant and tailings facility continue on schedule with commissioning of the process plant to begin in the third quarter of this year.

“Fruta del Norte reached another important milestone on schedule,” said Ron Hochstein, Lundin Gold president and CEO. “At the end of May, overall construction progress was 73% complete and 88% of the project’s capital expenditure was committed. The team continues to make great progress as we head toward our first gold pour later this year.”

Underground mine development reached 7.3 kilometers (km) as of May 31 versus a target of 7.1 km. Crews started mining the first transverse long hole production stope on June 16 and mining is planned to continue to ramp up with additional crews being added as more production stope faces become available, the company said.

In related news, Lundin Gold has entered into partnerships with the Littoral Polytechnic School (ESPOL) in Guayaquil and the National University of Loja (UNL) to develop a range of programs to reinforce responsible mining and address the key challenges facing the local communities surrounding the Fruta del Norte gold project. Through these programs, students, teachers, researchers, local community members and Lundin Gold will work collaboratively on jointly-identified environmental and social initiatives. The partnership with UNL will focus on agricultural projects, while ESPOL and the company will focus on working with artisanal miners, and promoting co-existence with large-scale mining operations.