Latest issue of International Mining Project News available (October 23): With the US dollar weakening and the gold price climbing ever higher, many mining companies are making decisive moves on the road to production. This is evident in Project News, with 15 gold projects in the prefeasibility stage and 12 in feasibility. Further along the development line, there is news of Barrick Gold buying Xstrata’s 70% interest in the El Morro gold-copper project, located in the Atacama Region of Chile. The project has total Measured and Indicated resources of around 8.3 Moz of gold and 6,300 MIb of copper. Also, Mwana Africa has poured its first gold, following completion of Phase 1 of its refurbishment program, at the Freda Rebecca mine in Zimbabwe. Away from gold, Vale has signed an investment agreement with the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, in order to expand its iron ore production capacity in the state. It has also set out an investment budget for 2010, involving capital expenditures of $12.9 billion for sustaining its existing global operations, and to foster growth through research and development and project execution. In Mexico, Goldcorp’s new Peñasquito mine has produced its first lead and zinc concentrates. Throughout its mine life Peñasquito will produce both lead and zinc concentrates, with most of the gold and silver production coming from the lead concentrates. All components of the operation – from the mine to the crusher, to the grinding mills, flotation cells, concentrate filters and on to the tailings facilities – have now been operated and commissioned, and initial ramp-up is proceeding as expected. Overall, progress at the mine remains on track for completion of commissioning for the Line 1 processing circuit by year-end. Mwana Africa’s first gold pour in Phase 1 – 180 oz – is part of production that is forecast to increase to 30,000 oz/y of gold by the end of 2009. Planning for Phase 2, which is expected to increase output to in excess of 50,000 oz/y, is well advanced.In British Columbia, Canada, Terrane Metals has the results of the feasibility update study for its 100%-owned Mt. Milligan copper-gold project. The 2009 study was prepared by Wardrop to update a 2008 study to construct a 60,000 t/d copper flotation process plant and open-pit mine at Mt. Milligan. The study is a key component of a 14 month – $21.5 million Modified Project Execution Plan to advance the project through the completion of key pre-construction-related activities.Back to the Vale news, the company says that the investment plan continues to reflect its focus on organic growth for its strategy: 76.6% of the budget is allocated to finance R&D and greenfield and brownfield project execution against an average of 71.1% over the last five years. Given its existing assets and those which will come on stream in the near future, Vale expects to maintain production growing at a brisk pace. This capex budget represents an increase of 29.3% over the $10 billion invested in the last year ended at June 30, 2009.Although iron ore and nickel will continue to be the company’s main businesses, it plans to boost the production capacity of copper, coal and fertilizers, creating a more diversified portfolio of worldclass assets. Given the current project pipeline, it expects to reach the following production flows in 2014: 450 Mt of iron ore, 380,000 t of nickel, 650,000 t of copper, 30 Mt of coal, 3.1 Mt of potash and 6.6 Mt of phosphate rock. To enhance the competitiveness of its operations, it will continue to invest a sizeable amount of funds in its railroads, maritime terminals, shipping and power generation.To receive the full 40+ page report, subscriptions to this service can be registered and paid for on-line (SUBSCRIBE TO IM PROJECT NEWS BUTTON), or contact [email protected] for a free trial copy.