May 3, 2010 / 1:01 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-Iamgold advances start-up of Essakane mine

* Co. says processing of ore is set to begin in June

* Says mine will lower its average gold mining cash costs

TORONTO, May 3 (Reuters) - Iamgold Corp (IMG.TO) said on Monday it has advanced the start-up date of its new Essakane gold mine in Burkina Faso in West Africa.

The Canadian gold miner said processing of ore through the mill is set to begin in June, four to six weeks ahead of the previously announced production schedule.

“The Essakane gold mine is the largest private foreign investment to date in Burkina Faso and we expect that it will provide significant benefits to all stakeholders,” Peter Jones, the company’s interim president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Essakane is 90 percent owned by Iamgold, with the government of Burkina Faso holding the remaining 10 percent stake. The operation is expected to produce more than 500,000 ounces of gold from start-up through to the end of 2011.

The company said the $443 million project is expected to produce gold at an average cash cost of $400 to $410 per ounce, helping to lower its average gold mining cash costs in the second half of 2010 and beyond.

Iamgold expects to produce 940,000 to 1 million ounces of gold at an average cash cost of $490 to $510 per ounce, in 2010. (Reporting by Euan Rocha, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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