Ecuador está cerca de firmar contratos con dos mineras canadienses, lo cual potencia al país como un importante exportador de metales.

Ecuador is close to signing contracts with two Canadian-listed mining companies and is also negotiating various other projects with foreign investors that may help make the Andean country a major metal exporter.

The South American OPEC member has a long-developed oil industry, but has no large-scale mineral extraction yet despite possessing significant copper, gold and silver reserves.

Kinross Gold Corp (K.TO: Quote) and Ecuacorriente CTQ.TO are the nearest to closing deals in projects worth $3 billion in total, the Ecuadorean government has said. 

Following are details about the main projects:


* Ecuacorriente plans to develop the Mirador copper mine, in the southern province of Zamora, which it says has estimated reserves of 11 billion lbs of copper.

* The company is also in talks with the government over an operating contract for its Panantza-San Carlos copper project.

* Panantza-San Carlos could have average annual metal output over the first 10 years of approximately 418 million lbs of copper, 22,800 oz gold, 1.11 million oz silver and 2.8 million lbs of molybdenum.

* Ecuacorriente is an affiliate of Canada's Corriente Resources, which in turn belongs to CRCC-Tongguan, controlled by China's Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group (000630.SZ: Quote) and China Railway Construction (601186.SS: Quote).


* Kinross plans to develop Ecuador's largest gold project, Fruta del Norte, which has proven and probable mineral reserves estimated at 6.8 million oz of gold and 9.1 million oz of silver.

* Fruta del Norte is expected to produce an average of 410,000 gold equivalent ounces annually.

* Kinross said it is on track to finish feasibility studies for Fruta del Norte before the end of the year.


* Also Toronto-listed, International Minerals (IMZ.TO: Quote) plans to develop the Rio Blanco gold-silver mine, which has estimated proven and probable resources of 605,000 oz of gold and 4.3 million oz of silver.

* Pending contract approval, Rio Blanco could start production in 2014. International Minerals estimates the mine's life at seven-and-a-half years.


* A fourth Canadian miner with high hopes in Ecuador is IAMGold (IMG.TO: Quote), which plans to develop the Quimsacocha gold-copper-silver mine in southern Ecuador.

* The mine's proven and probable gold resources are estimated at 1.68 million oz.

* The mine could start production in early 2012, and would have a life of seven-and-a-half years.

* IAMGold estimates Quimsacocha's annual output at 202,000 oz of gold, plus 1 million oz of silver and 9.3 million lbs of copper.


* Although Ecuador's state-run minerals company does not run any mines, it controls some areas that industry sources say have huge potential.

* Enami plans to sign a contract with Chile's Codelco [CODEL.UL], the world's top copper miner, to form a joint venture company to explore for copper and gold. (Source: Companies' websites, Ecuador's government) (Compiled by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Jan Paschal)

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