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Batero Gold Says PEA For La Cumbre Deposit Expected In Q2

Batero Gold Corp. (CVE:BAT) provided Thursday an update on its exploration and development efforts at its Batero-Quinchia project in Colombia.

The company told investors that it continues to make "significant progress" in both advancing the project's La Cumbre gold deposit toward development, and defining high priority exploration targets for its 2013 drill program.

A preliminary economic assessment for the oxide gold deposit is expected in the second quarter, with the company focused on moving the near surface oxidized gold mineralization through full feasibility and to construction as soon as possible.

For the preliminary study, it has so far completed infill drilling, geotechnical drilling and metallurgical tests, as well as an infrastructure assessment.

Following the report, the company is planning to start a full feasibility study during the second half of the year, which it expects will be complete after 12 months. It added that it is fully funded for this next step.

"Batero continues to make progress in evaluating an optimal mine scenario," said CEO Brandon Rook. "Considerations include both a leach processing circuit and the optimum starter pit production rate from the higher grade oxidized gold mineralization at La Cumbre, which represents just one of three porphyry deposits at the Batero-Quinchia Project.

"The development of a prospective starter pit at La Cumbre could potentially serve as the first phase of a larger staged mine development. Our progress on this strategic decision has been greatly accelerated by the operational expertise of our strategic partner, Consorcio Minero Horizonte."

Indeed, last month, Peruvian gold producer Consorcio Minero Horizonte took a 35 per cent stake in the company, as per a strategic alliance agreement between the two parties struck in November.

The deal raised about $20 million for the development of the Batero-Quinchia project and included equity private placement financings, as well as an agreed loan of $2.2 million to Batero from Horizonte, all together raising up to $20 million for Batero.

With regards to the company's exploration program this year, Batero said it will use its exploration budget to focus on new discoveries at the project - specifically targeting the 60% of the concession area that remains unexplored.

Three new areas have been identified so far, said the company.

"We are encouraged by recent high-grade exploration discoveries which are defining new high priority drill targets," said Rook. "With 60% of the property unexplored, we believe the long-term exploration potential is significant."

Shares of Batero advanced more than 6% on Thursday to trade at 33.5 cents on the TSX Venture Exchange.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.