MINAS DE MATAHAMBRE, Cuba (Reuters) – A new lead and zinc mine in northwestern Cuba is on track to start production in October as part of the Caribbean island’s attempt to breathe fresh life in its mining sector, the joint venture Emincar overseeing the project said this week.
While nickel exports are already one of Communist-run Cuba’s main foreign currency earners, the cash-strapped country has untapped potential in other mineral deposits, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The $278 million Castellanos mine will produce annually 100,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate and 50,000 tonnes of lead concentrate, said executives at Emincar, the venture between Swiss-based commodities giant Trafigura and Cuban state firm Geominera.
“We are reviving the small and medium-size mining sector in Cuba from this investment,” said Justo Hernández Pérez, Emincar deputy general manager, during a visit by foreign journalists on Thursday to the mine in the province of Pinar del Rio. “This is just the start.”
Many mines, including a gold mine at the site of the new Castellanos mine, were abandoned in the 1990s and 2000s in the wake of the fall of then key-ally the Soviet Union, the collapse of the economy and low commodities prices.
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