GREATER DEPTHS: Miners drill underground at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng gold mine near Carletonville. Higher costs have been a result of the strengthening rand.Picture: Bloomberg News
GREATER DEPTHS: Miners drill underground at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng gold mine near Carletonville. Higher costs have been a result of the strengthening rand.Picture: Bloomberg News

JOHANNESBURG - Anglogold Ashanti’s Western Australian-based Tropicana Mine, which it operates jointly with the Independence Group, will see the life of its mine extended by seven years after both parties committed to a strategy that would add 2.1million ounces to the mine.

AngloGold Ashanti, which owns 70percent of Tropicana, said that the Long Island strategy would see the development of a more cost-effective way to mine waste.

It also said the strategy involved using a strip-mining approach that minimises waste haulage distances by using in-pit backfill, rather than trucking the material long distances to surface waste dumps.

“This project is in line with our approach of developing cost-effective brownfield projects with attractive payback periods that extend life and improve margins,” said Michael Erickson, AngloGold Ashanti’s senior vice-president for Australia.

“The project validates the innovative ideas developed by our site team and technical specialists, and it also gives us an excellent base from which we can investigate adding additional value through underground mining opportunities and regional exploration,” Erickson said.


The capital expenditure related to Long Island would be R180million (A$17.56m), primarily for expansion to the accommodation camp and heavy vehicle workshop infrastructure.

AngloGold Ashanti said the project value had been enhanced by the decision to install a 6million watt ball mill in the processing plant, enabling throughput to be matched to the increased mining rate and improving gold recovery by up to 3percent to 92percent.

The Long Island concept provides optionality and flexibility, with eight mining stages, and is aimed at giving the opportunity to adjust to changing economic conditions.

Mining rates at Tropicana have been successfully increased over the past year to more than 90million tons per annum (Mtpa) with the addition last year of a 600ton face shovel, de-risking the increase to the Long Island mining rate of between 95 and 100Mtpa.

The mining rate was expected to peak at 107 Mtpa in 2019 and continue at that rate for about four years until the bulk of the Havana pit is mined.

In October the company announced the restructuring of its South African assets, which resulted in the R4billion sale of Moab Khotsong to Harmony Gold.

AngloGold Ashanti also sold its Kopanang Mine and West Gold Plant to Heaven-Sent SA Sunshine Investment Company, which controls the local Village Main Reef operation, for R100m.

Last month it announced production of 997000 ounces during the third quarter, which was 11percent higher than the same period a year earlier, and was 9percent higher than the previous quarter this year.

AngloGold Ashanti shares dropped 0.93percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R124.86.

- BUSINESS REPORT