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Argentine regulatory authorities have approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for joint-venture (JV) subsidiary Puna Operations’s Chinchillas precious metals project.

Owned 75% and operated by SSR Mining, Puna Operations was formed earlier this year as a JV vehicle with gold junior Golden Arrow Resources, to combine Chinchillas with the producing Pirquitas silver/zinc mine into a single new operation.

The TSX- and Nasdaq-listed miner SSR advised on Wednesday that development activities will start, with first ore feed to the Pirquitas mill expected in the second half of 2018. Priority development activities include initiating the earthworks projects at Chinchillas, releasing construction contracts and starting construction activities at Pirquitas, as well as pioneering works for pre-stripping at the Chinchillas deposit.

The Chinchillas project is located about 42 km by road from the Pirquitas property.

The pre-feasibility study on the Chinchillas project envisions the development and construction of an openpit mine and supporting infrastructure to supply ore to the Pirquitas processing facilities over an eight-year active mining period.

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