Gold Fields' Salares Norte Hits 250K Oz Gold, Eyes 2.8M by 2025

Gold Fields launches $1 billion Salares Norte mine in Chile, aiming for 2.8 million ounces by 2025 with significant economic and environmental initiatives.

By Bill Bullington

4/3, 16:53 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Gold Fields' Salares Norte mine, with a $1 billion investment, aims for 250,000 ounces in 2023 towards a 2025 goal of 2.8 million ounces.
  • The project is expected to create 900 jobs and generate nearly $800 million in taxes over its lifespan, showcasing significant economic impact.
  • Incorporating filtered tailings technology and planning a solar plant to cut CO2 emissions by over 10,000 tons annually highlight environmental commitment.

Gold Fields' Ambitious Endeavor

Gold Fields has embarked on an ambitious project with the development of the Salares Norte mine, situated at a challenging altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level, where winter temperatures plummet to as low as -20 degrees Celsius. CEO Mike Fraser highlighted the remarkable achievement of advancing this project amidst the global pandemic, emphasizing the significant investment exceeding $1 billion. This venture is crucial for Gold Fields' goal to produce 2.8 million ounces of gold by 2025, with initial production volumes expected to hit around 250,000 ounces this year and a forecast to reach full-year production of 580,000 ounces in the subsequent year.

Economic and Social Impacts

The Salares Norte mine is set to have a profound economic and social impact on the Atacama region and Chile at large. It is projected to create approximately 900 permanent jobs and contribute nearly $800 million in direct and indirect taxes over its 11-year lifespan. Notably, with over 26% of the mine’s workforce being women, Gold Fields demonstrates a strong commitment to gender inclusion, significantly surpassing national averages. This initiative not only boosts local employment but also sets a precedent for diversity and inclusion in the mining sector.

Environmental Innovations

In line with modern environmental standards, Salares Norte is incorporating innovative technologies and initiatives to minimize its ecological footprint. The implementation of filtered tailings technology is a notable advancement, optimizing water use and enhancing safety by replacing conventional tailings storage facilities. Additionally, the development of a state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar plant is expected to reduce the mine’s carbon emissions by over 10,000 tons of CO2 annually, showcasing Gold Fields' commitment to sustainable mining practices.

Strengthening Local Communities

Despite its remote location, 111 miles from the nearest town of Diego de Almagro, Gold Fields has made significant efforts to integrate the local community into the Salares Norte project. The establishment of more than 30 cooperation agreements and multiple collaborations with educational institutions has trained over 600 students, strengthening the labor market in Chile, a nation renowned for its mining industry. These initiatives not only support local development but also ensure the project's long-term sustainability and acceptance within the community.

Management Quotes

  • Mike Fraser, CEO of Gold Fields:

    "To build a remote mine at 4,500 meters above sea level with winter temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius and amidst a global pandemic is an incredible feat."