Canadian firm Lumina Gold has reported positive preliminary economic assessment (PEA) results for its Cangrejos gold-copper project, located in the El Oro Province of southern Ecuador.

The results indicated that the project has the potential to be an profitable large-scale open pit gold and copper mine.

Authored by MTB Project Management Professionals and initiated last year, the PEA estimates production of 373koz of gold and 43Mlbs of copper per year over a mine life of 16 years.

“Cangrejos is one of the top 15 undeveloped gold projects in the world based on its average annual production potential.”

Lumina Gold president and CEO Marshall Koval said: “This represents a crucial first step in demonstrating the value of the Cangrejos project to both Lumina shareholders and Ecuador.

“The PEA establishes that Cangrejos is one of the top 15 undeveloped gold projects in the world based on its average annual production potential.

“Our team is confident that with further drilling, engineering and study we will continue to increase the scale of the project and improve its economics.”

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The company will build a processing plant with an ore-processing capacity of 40ktpd in the first five years, before expanding it to 80ktpd in the sixth year.

Based on the PEA, the project is estimated to have initial capital costs, including working capital, of $831m, while planned expansion would be undertaken at a cost of $406m.

Lumina expects Cangrejos to have post-tax net present value (NPV) of $876m at a discount rate of 5% and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 14.4%.

The project is anticipated to have a pre-production stripping period of 15 months to expose sufficient ore for initial concentrator operations.

Once the current infill, step-out and depth extension drilling programme is completed, the project will be advanced to a pre-feasibility study.