The rapidly increasing cases of coronavirus in Ecuador has forced Lundin Gold to pause operations at the Fruta del Norte gold mine

Fruta del Norte mine

Image: Aerial view of the process plant of the Fruta del Norte gold project. (Credit: Lundin Gold)

Lundin Gold said that it is temporarily halting operations at its Fruta del Norte gold mine in Ecuador due to the increasing concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the South American country.

By the end of last week, Ecuador reported more than 500 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, reported Reuters.

Lundin Gold president and CEO Ron Hochstein said: “The situation in Ecuador has changed rapidly over the last few days.

“We are committed to the health and safety of our employees and the local communities in which we operate.  In consultation with both local officials and the Government of Ecuador, we have made the decision to temporarily suspend operations in order to reduce the risk to our workforce and to local communities.”

Located in southeast Ecuador, the Fruta del Norte gold mine poured its first gold in November 2019.

During its suspension, Lundin Gold will maintain a workforce to undertake care and maintenance activities and special projects with an objective to minimise the effects of the temporary shutdown.

Lundin Gold unsure about restart date of operations at Fruta del Norte gold mine

The Canadian gold miner said that as the situation is dynamic and based on actions by the local and federal governments, it cannot, as of now, indicate the duration of the temporary suspension of the operations and also on its full impact.

Under normal circumstances, the Fruta del Norte gold mine has an estimated production of 3,500 tonnes per day or an average of 310,000 ounces gold of per year. The underground gold mine, which had a CAPEX of CAD692m ($477.97m), has a mining life of nearly 15 years.

Discovered in 2006, the Fruta del Norte gold deposit was acquired by Lundin Gold in late 2014 for $240m. The gold mine achieved commercial production in February 2020.