Ecuador’s Minister for Non-Renewable Resources Wilson Pastor said that the administration of President Rafael Correa is expecting to sign exploitation and investment contracts with at least three foreign mining companies next month.

The mining concessions have reserves of gold, copper, zinc and silver, along with a variety of minerals.

The firms which are in advanced exploration stage include EcuaCorriente for its Mirador project, International Minerals’ local unit for its Rio Blanco project, and Kinross Gold for its Fruta del Norte project.

The minister also said that about five foreign mining companies are expecting to invest more than $4bn in the Andean country over the next five years.