Lundin Gold, the owner and operator of the Fruta del Norte gold project in southeast Ecuador, has announced its results for the year ended December 31, 2018. “During 2018 the team focused on the critical underground development and the start of construction on surface, and we are now halfway through construction,” said Ron Hochstein, Lundin Gold’s President and CEO. “This year will see Lundin Gold achieve many important milestones, including mining its first development stopes and commissioning the process plant, all of which will lead to first gold expected in the fourth quarter of this year.” The company has also executed a gold concentrate offtake agreement with Boliden for approximately 50% of Fruta del Norte’s gold concentrate production over its first eight years of operations. Istvan Zollei of Orion and Michael Nossal and Craig Jones of Newcrest joined the board of the company pursuant to board representation rights as part of the equity financing.As at December 31, 2018 a total of 4.5 km of underground mine development had been completed. Average advance rate in 2018 on declines and primary development was 9.8 m per day versus a target of 6.6 m per day, while advance rates on total development including auxiliary work was 11.6 m per day versus a target of 7.9 m per day. The advance rates exceeded the planned rates due to better than expected ground conditions, lower than anticipated water inflows and greater productivity from the mine contractor. The mine operating equipment fleet also started to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2018. Over 200 mining operator trainees began the company’s training program, with the first group of 100 beginning the final part of their training. This takes place on site and includes classroom sessions and experience with simulators and in the field.As at the end of 2018, earthworks were 75% complete. Projects that were completed during the year include the River Road which connects the camp to the plant site, the North Access Road, which improves logistics and shortens the distance to the national highway system, the process plant and paste plant site preparations, ventilation shaft access road and platform, and three major water storage and sedimentation ponds as part of the overall site water management. The tailings storage facility is one of the final major site earthworks projects and is well underway.For the processing plant, site-wide concrete is 69% complete and process plant concrete 62% complete as at the end of 2018, while site-wide steel 38% complete and process plant steel 18% complete. During the fourth quarter of 2018, process plant mechanical equipment (grinding mills and carbon-in-leach tank) erection began. The majority of process plant equipment has been delivered, with the remainder in transit from factories.Infrastructure completed in 2018 and currently in use includes: mobile equipment maintenance shop, mine compressor station, mine wash bay, mine fuel station, tailings maintenance shop and process plant maintenance shop. Infrastructure that is under construction includes: mine dry and administration building, laboratory, reagent storage building and gatehouse. Site-wide electrical distribution network is also under construction. The mine substation is substantially complete, while the main Fruta del Norte power substation concrete is done, and main transformers have been placed on the foundations.In 2018, the company made significant progress on the 42 km powerline connecting the Project to the national grid and obtained the following permits and agreements:Construction permit from the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources.Requisite access rights obtained from all landowners.Execution of Cooperation Agreement for the Taday to Bomboiza powerline and substation with La Corporación Eléctrica del Ecuador (CELEC).Powerline construction started in September and is progressing on three fronts with 28 out of 107, or 27% of powerline infrastructure, being complete as of December 31, 2018. The Bomboiza substation connection equipment has been ordered and detailed engineering is underway.In exploration terms, Lundin Gold has signed an earn-in agreement with Newcrest to form a joint venture company to explore eight early stage concessions to the north and south of Fruta del Norte, which exclude the large block of concessions surrounding the Fruta del Norte deposit. It has completed 6,245 m of drilling in six drill holes at the El Puma target, located in the southern Suarez Pull-Apart basin. Results indicated epithermal indicator elements; however, no significant mineralization was found. The drilling indicated that further follow-up drilling is required. Mapping, geochemical sampling and permitting required for future drilling continues on a number of epithermal gold-silver targets.