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RBC Capital analyst Stephen Walker remains optimistic that Kinross Gold Corp.'s (KGC) Kupol project in Russia will soon be a go, despite ongoing delays regarding final permitting of the development.

"The political climate in Russia can prove challenging for Western-based mining companies, however we expect Kinross to receive its Kupol permit in 2007 or early 2008," he said in a note to clients, adding his review of Russian-language news sources to date has yet to reveal public opposition or negative political sentiment towards the project.

Instead, Mr. Walker said it appears the delays in receiving the Kupol lands lease extension are the result of a land registry office and bureaucracy in the Chukotka region of east Russia, where Kupol is located.

The analyst called Kupol the "key to growth" for Kinross and based largely on his positive outlook for the project, he upgraded his company rating from "sector perform" to "outperform" and raised his target price from C$15 to C$21.

An increase in RBC Capital's gold price forecast from US$700 to US$730 per ounce for 2007 and $730 to $760 per ounce for 2008 also contributed to the upgrade.

KGC 1-yr chart:

Source: Kinross' Kupol Mine in Russia "Key to Growth"