GUATEMALA SEES AUGUST BIDS ON GOLD PROJECT

GUATEMALA SEES AUGUST BIDS ON GOLD PROJECT

Guatemalan government officials hope to accept bids beginning in August on a mining project that could yield as much as 14 metric tons of gold over four years.

The Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines, with financing from the United Nations and Japanese aid agencies, has been studying the region around Chiquimula in eastern Guatemala. It has found a vein of quartz - named El Pato - at least 1,800 meters long with an average of 7 grams of gold per metric ton of rock, along with similar concentrations of silver, they said.The Energy Ministry was drawing up a special mining contract to be submitted to President Jorge Serrano for final approval this summer, after which bids will be advertised. So far, nine U.S. companies have visited the site and expressed an interest in bidding, mining official said.

The El Pato gold endeavor marks the first time Guatemala has attempted to embark on a mining project of such magnitude since a nickel mine and smelter, financed with private foreign capital, was exhausted in the early 1980s after almost 15 years of work.

The officials made their comments Thursday at the annual board meeting of the Latin American Mining Organization.