AngloGold Ashanti says Phase 2 of the Obuasi redevelopment project was substantially complete at the end of June 2021. Following the resumption of underground stoping in mid-October 2021, the safe ramp-up to the full mining rate of 4,000 tonnes per day is expected to be achieved by the end of the first half of 2022.
Phase 3 of the project, which relates principally to extended capital expenditure to refurbish existing infrastructure around the KMS Shaft, as well as to service the mine in deeper production areas, has progressed and will continue as planned through to the end of 2023.
In September 2021, the Mining Operations License (PTO – Programa de Trabajo y Obrasi) was approved by the Antioquia’s Mining Secretary. On 4 November 2021, the Colombian Environmental Agency (ANLA) officially notified AngloGold Ashanti of its decision to ‘archive’ the environmental license application relating to the Quebradona project. Per AngloGold Ashanti statement on 26 October 2021, ANLA has neither denied nor granted the license, but deemed that the information provided by AngloGold Ashanti is not enough for this authority to take a substantive decision.
AngloGold Ashanti intends to appeal the archiving decision in order to secure further details on the specific additional information ANLA requires making a determination. Based on the outcome of this appeal, the Company will prepare a new environmental license application.
It is expected that the new submission would likely add an additional 18 to 24 months to the licensing process, to allow for the requisite technical analysis. AngloGold Ashanti intends to fully collaborate with the authorities to resolve any outstanding issues in a satisfactory manner and advance the Quebradona project to the next stage.
The Company believes that the project remains an attractive long-life, high grade, low-cost project which introduces copper and silver production into the portfolio and that the project enjoys strong support from a range of stakeholders including local communities.
At Gramalote, following a review of the feasibility study work to date, the joint venture partners, AngloGold Ashanti and B2Gold Corp (B2Gold), believe that there is potential to improve the economics of the project by revisiting the original Gramalote project design included in the existing mining permit and further optimising project design.
The joint venture partners consider that further value could be created through additional drilling of the Inferred portions of the Mineral Resource area, both within and adjacent to the designed pit, with at least 25,000 metres of drilling planned and progressing in 2021 and a Mineral Resource update expected in early 2022. Additional drilling is being carried out at the Trinidad deposit during the remainder of 2021.
The project team is advancing work on different project optimisation opportunities to potentially reduce capital and operating costs, as well as improve operability and sustainability of the project. B2Gold continues to monitor whether changes in the project design could require permit amendments of the approved Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).
Supporting environmental and social studies continue to move forward as planned. B2Gold expects that any permit amendments could potentially impact the development timeline and delivery of the final feasibility study for the project, which is currently expected in the second quarter of 2022.
The project partners have agreed to a revised 2021 feasibility study budget (subject to final joint venture committee approval) of $69m which includes funding for additional drilling and represents an increase of $17m (AngloGold Ashanti’s share: $8.5m). The project continues to benefit from strong federal and local government support as well as continuing support from local communities.