NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Canadian gold mining company Iamgold Corp. said Tuesday it has opened its Essakane mine in Burkina Faso six months ahead of its original target.
Iamgold said it began processing ore last week. The mine is one of West Africa's largest undeveloped gold reserves. It is expected to produce more than 500,000 ounces of gold from startup to the end of 2011.
Iamgold owns 90 percent of the Essakane mine. The government of Burkina Faso owns the remaining 10 percent.
Toronto-based Iamgold took over the Essakane mine in 2009 when it acquired fellow Canadian gold mining company Orezone Resources Inc. The company said it has spent $443 million preparing the mine for production, including the relocation of 12,000 people. The project is the largest foreign investment to date in Burkina Faso, the company said.