Goldcorp hopes for El Morro permit next year

Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:49pm EST
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By Alexandra Ulmer

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Goldcorp Inc (G.TO: Quote) hopes its embattled $3.9 billion El Morro copper-gold mine in Chile will receive a new permit within the next year, Chief Executive Chuck Jeannes told Reuters on Wednesday.

Chile's Supreme Court in April upheld the suspension of an environmental permit for the Canadian company's El Morro project, in one of the biggest legal blows to a mine in the country.

An appeals court had struck down El Morro's environmental permit in February at the request of an indigenous agricultural community.

"We're hoping that (the new permit) happens within the next year," Jeannes said on the sidelines of a conference on mining security in Santiago. "One of the reasons I'm here is to talk to government officials. El Morro is a very important project for us."

Jeannes declined to comment on when Goldcorp expected first production from the project, which is 70 percent owned by his company and 30 percent owned by smaller competitor New Gold Inc NGD.TO. The partners had supposed that building of the mine would start in September and that it would begin production in 2017.

The mine is expected to produce about 200 million pounds of copper a year and more than 210,000 ounces of gold for Goldcorp.

"El Morro was a very good project ... I think it would be something positive" if they got the permit at some point next year, Salman Partners analyst David West said.

Delays could affect the project's capital expenditure, he added.   Continued...