Inti Raymi dismisses shutdown delay reports

By
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Minera Inti Raymi (Emirsa), a Bolivian subsidiary of Denver-based Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM), denied reports that the shutdown of its Kori Kollo gold mine has been held up.

Local press said the planned closure of Kori Kollo was at a standstill on account of backfill problems on the site of a lake being developed on the property.

"There has been absolutely no delay. We did stop work on the backfill in February, on account of the turbulent social conditions in the country at the time, during which there were protests that some politicians took advantage of to set us up as a target given that we are a transnational. We decided to stop operations to protect our workers and installations and announced it publicly," Ibo Blazicevic, closedown coordinator at Kori Kollo, told BNamericas.

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The lake is now 80% full, thanks to good river inflow, and it will be full in 20 or 25 days at this rate, he said.

But the executive said that at one stage there was a lot of resistance from local people over water use, and there was a disinformation campaign directed at the communities. This meant the company had to work hard organizing seminars to explain to 3,000 people that what the firm was doing was the best for the environment, according to Blazicevic.

"Finally, we won over most people, but not all, as some had opposed the measure in order to gain from it economically," he said.

Blazicevic said the rest of the work is going on as outlined in the original plan and the mine's plant will cease operations at the end of August this year.

Kori Kollo is located 50km northeast of Oruro, in southwest Bolivia. The closure of the mine, plant and other facilities, a result of depleted reserves, is expected to be completed by 2007.

The operation, which is 88% owned by Newmont via Emirsa, is forecast to produce around 150,000oz of gold this year.