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Exploration to Expansion: How 2024 Spells a Turnaround for the Mining Sector - Tue Jan 30, 8:26AM CST

USA News Group – Looking to rebound from a downtick in exploration spending in 2023, the mining industry is looking ahead to a more optimistic 2024. Analysts from both JP Morgan and RBC are anticipating gold prices to rise throughout 2024, possibly reaching unprecedented levels. Amid the resurgence are plenty of developing stories involving new and restarted mines going into production in 2024, including from Element79 Gold Corp. (CSE:ELEM) (OTC:ELMGF), Compañia de Minas Buenaventura S.A.A. (Buenaventura) (NYSE:BVN), Iamgold Corp. (NYSE:IAG) (TSX:IMG), Equinox Gold Corp. (NYSE-American:EQX) (TSX:EQX), and Osisko Mining Inc. (TSX:OSK) (OTC:OBNNF).

Moving another step towards production at its high-grade flagship Lucero Project in Southern Peru, Element79 Gold Corp. (CSE:ELEM) (OTC:ELMGF) just signed an important Letter of Intent (LOI) with neighbouring gold giant Buenaventura (NYSE:BVN). The newly signed LOI paves the way for Element79 to sell ore from Lucero to Buenaventura, marking a pivotal moment in the project’s journey and moving the junior miner towards realizing its 2024 cash-flow generation strategy.

"This LOI sets the stage for a transformative partnership and represents another pivotal moment – Proof of Concept that this past-producing mine has valuable economic potential today - by aligning with a potential regional offtake partner - notably the same party that used to own this mine the last time it was in commercial production, and spurring the path to restarting commercial production in the near term” said James C. Tworek, CEO of Element 79 Gold. “Our team has a series of project milestones to achieve along the way to realizing this potential offtake, including completing a Definitive Agreement with BVN. We are confident our joint efforts with BVN will enrich our understanding of Lucero's property and help unlock more of the inherent value of ELEM's crown jewel."

As per the terms of the LOI, both Element79 and Buenaventura are set to commence a Pilot Bulk Sampling Program with the target of extracting a minimum quantity of ore over a 12-month period to be shipped to BVN’s Orcopampa mill for processing. Under the Pilot Program, Element79 will deliver an average of 200 tons per day of ore. As well, Element 79 Gold will also have the privilege of conducting a site visit to Buenaventura’s Orcopampa mine and mill facilities early this year. Lucero is already permitted for 350 tonnes per day in ore processing, and Element79 had stated openly prior its intention to restart production in the near term.

Acknowledging the challenges in Peru related to social conflicts and illegal mining, the company received an Exploration Permit from the Chachas Community in September for mining exploration activities. This move demonstrates Element79's commitment to a proactive and community-oriented approach in its operations.

As of midway through 2023, Iamgold Corp. (NYSE:IAG) (TSX:IMG) was poised to start production at its Côté Gold project in Quebec in early 2024, and had already hit the 90% mine construction mark by late October. By their Q4 2023 production results report, the miner stated that commissioning activities at Côté Gold were progressing well, with the start-up of the primary crushing circuit ongoing, and initial production remaining on track for March 2024.

"This stage of iterative testing and project advancement is critical in order to position the project for a successful and steady ramp up of gold production through the year," said Renaud Adams, President and CEO of IAMGOLD. "Côté Gold is expected to be the third largest gold mine in Canada with an expected mine life exceeding 18 years, repositioning IAMGOLD with a strong foundation of gold production, lower cost profile and exceptional growth opportunities in Canada."

Another Canadian mine getting closer to production is The Greenstone mine in Ontario being developed through a partnership of Equinox Gold Corp. (NYSE-American:EQX) (TSX:EQX) (60%) and Orion Mine Finance Group (40%), with construction on track to pour gold in the first half of 2024. By November, Greenstone’s construction was 96% complete with commissioning underway. Equinox expects the Greenstone mine to provide more than 400,000 ounces of annual gold production over the first five years, and more than five million ounces of gold produced over its initial 14-year mine life.

"With the Greenstone Project 96% complete and the power plant fully operational, the priority is now on completion and commissioning of the process plant, commissioning of the TSF and ramp up of mining and operations,” said Greg Smith, President and CEO of Equinox Gold. “The project continues to advance on budget and on schedule. We look forward to pouring gold in the first half of 2024 and then achieving commercial production."

While not as near completion as the aforementioned mines above, Osisko Mining Inc. (TSX:OSK) (OTC:OBNNF) is anticipating construction on the Cariboo Gold Project, a new underground mine near Wells, BC to being in Q2 2024. As of October 2023, the Cariboo Gold Project had already passed its environmental assessment, moving closer to providing employment for roughly 200 workers during construction, and over 500 more during operation. Osisko has stated they are working towards setting a new standard for mining in Canada, with the aim to be a fully electric mine, which could be a first in the world.

“The project will use vast technical innovation and clean technology to extract resources in an environmentally safe manner,” said Francois Vezina, Senior Vice President of Project Development, Technical Services and the Environment, for Osisko Mining. “We’ll mine cleaner, greener, and quieter than any project underway in Canada-and we’re proud of that.”

Once in operation, Osisko expects the robust and scalable underground operation to produce approximately 1.87 million ounces of gold over a 12-year mine life.

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