ECR Minerals Plc said Tuesday it expects exploratory drilling on its El Abra gold prospect in Argentina to begin next month.

The London-based company has received all necessary permits from La Rioja Province and expects diamond drilling to begin in the second week of January.

The ground-based geophysical survey being carried out at El Abra is expected to be completed before the end of December, and the resulting data will be used for drill targeting.

The viability of such an operation will be dependent upon the findings of the test-work and on the results of the proposed drilling at El Abra, ECR Minerals said in a statement.

Further drilling may also be required in advance of any mining activities but could potentially take place shortly after the initial program is completed. The results of the drilling and test-work may also indicate that establishment of a dedicated processing plant at Sierra de las Minas would be preferable to toll treatment.

ECR holds 100 percent exploration rights to the Sierra de las Minas project area and 100 percent exploitation rights to a number of prospects within it, including the El Abra