November 12, 2014 / 12:47 PM / 4 years ago

Barrick's Pascua Lama hopes to find way forward, exec tells paper

SANTIAGO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Canadian miner Barrick Gold is hopeful it can find a way forward with its stalled Pascua Lama gold mine, which would likely cost some $4 billion to complete, a project executive said in an interview with a Chilean newspaper published on Wednesday.

Barrick, the world’s largest gold miner, halted the project on the Chilean and Argentine border last year after investing $5 billion in it. As well as permitting issues, cost overruns and a sharp drop in bullion prices, it faced the strong and organized opposition of the local indigenous communities.

However, Barrick is still looking for ways to take the project forward, Edmundo Flores, Senior Vice President Pascua Lama, told financial newspaper Diario Financiero.

“The company has made significant changes. We hope to be able to find a way...definitely there is an opportunity, it’s small, but it exists,” he said.

Finishing the project would probably cost around $4 billion more investment, he said, adding that construction costs had improved in the last couple of years.

Although the construction of the project has been halted, Barrick is committed to completing the building of a water management system and is also sitting down with the local communities who have opposed the project to try to work out an agreement.

A technical report will be ready in December or January, Flores said.

If completed, Pascua-Lama is expected to produce up to 850,000 ounces of gold annually in its first five years, which would contribute a large share of Barrick’s future production.

Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien Editing by W Simon

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