The project was given approval by the ministry's Directorate of Evaluation and Environmental Management, the technical arm of the agency. This was done despite the opposition from residents and environmental organizations in that region of the country.
The evaluation said that the project has the proper environmental controls in place to make it a "viable" development. The mining concession is 15,000 hectares and, if the minister okays the project, operations could start by the end of the year.
A plant at the site will be able to process 10,000 tons of material a day.