The company said it was the third such request by the Prefect of Azuay in his personal capacity, which INV believed was politically motivated in advance of the 2021 presidential elections.
"We have been advised by our legal counsel that this and other previous rulings have set a precedent that any future referendum requests related to mining activities should not impact our legally granted mining concessions within Ecuador, and the related potential future exploration, development and mining activities on such concessions," INV said.
The company said it was advancing finance discussions and was aiming to start development at Loma Larga in 2021.
"We are committed to the responsible and sustainable development of the Loma Larga mine for the benefit of our local communities, the region of Cuenca, the country of Ecuador, and our stakeholders," CEO Candace MacGibbon said yesterday.
She reiterated INV's focus on designing the underground mine and infrastructure in an environmentally responsible manner.
INV said it was working with the ministry of environment and water to submit the environmental impact study for review and comment.
MacGibbon said the mine would not discharge any water within the canton, treated water would meet stringent Ecuadorian standards, the mine would not use cyanide for processing, about 55% of tailings would be placed underground using the paste backfill method and the remainder would be filtered and pressed and put in a lined facility to be covered and revegetated on closure.
An updated feasibility study released in March put initial capex at US$316 million for a 12-year mine producing an average annual 223,000oz gold-equivalent.
The company's shares (TSX: INV) closed up 19.6% to C61c, near the middle of a one-year range of 18c-$1.12, to capitalise it at $83 million (US$64 million).