Copper and gold projects alter mining industry in Colombia
Although mining in Colombia accounts for 2% to GDP, the government and industry representatives hope that it will be an important economic catalyst given the geological conditions of the country and the portfolio of projects. With just 3% of the territory explored, Colombia seeks to diversify its mining portfolio, which until now has largely depended on coal, the second biggest export earner after oil.
Colombia produced 9,732 tonnes of copper in 2020 and 47.7 tonne (1.53Moz) of gold, two strategic minerals for the diversification of mining. Three metallic mining projects that are set to be an important part of the transition Colombia is yearning for.
1. Quebradona – A USD 1 billion underground copper-gold-silver project operated by South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti in Antioquia department, the deposit is 400m deep, while construction is expected to take four years and production is scheduled for 21 years. Output is estimated at 6.2 million tonnes per year of ore with an average grade of 1.20% copper. The environmental and social impact study is currently being analyzed by environmental agency ANLA. The concessions cover 7,593 hectare but the area to be mined is 471 hectare.
2. Gramalote – This gold project is operated by B2Gold through Gramalote Colombia, in which the Canadian company and AngloGold Ashanti each hold 50%. Initial investment is put at some USD 600 million and reserves are estimated at 5 Moz of gold, with potential increase to 7Moz. The operator expects to produce 350,000-450,000 oz per year gold. Gramalote has an environmental license and construction is expected to start in 2022.
3. Soto Norte – This underground gold project in Santander department is operated by Sociedad Minera de Santander (Minesa) and is in the feasibility study stage. The company plans to produce 9Moz of gold over more than 20 years. In February ANLA archived the environmental license evaluation process presented by Minesa, but the company announced that it will resubmit the EIS.