Argentina produced an estimated 31 t of gold in 2000, representing a needed boost from the previous year’s 26t. The increase was attributable to several new projects that came on stream over the past two years.

The Bajo de la Alumbrera copper – gold mining operation is located approximately 1100 km north of Buenos Aires, Catmarca province and is considered as one of Argentina’s largest gold and copper mining operations. It is also ranked as one of the world’s largest porphyry orebodies. Production began in 1998 and contains remaining proven and probable reserves of some 385 Mt of ore grading at an average of 0.54% copper and 0.65 g/t gold (June 2001). The operation is operated by Minera Alumbrera Ltd (MAA) that comprises a consortium of foreign investors consisting of MIM Holdings (50%), BHP Billiton (25%) and Rio Tinto (25%). At current production rates, Alumbrera has a life of at least 17 years. Alumbrera is anticipated to produce 590 000 oz gold in concentrate and 180 000t copper in concentrate per year, making it one of the largest gold producers in South America..

The massive Pascua – Lama – Veladero gold deposits straddle the Chile – Argentina border, and is to be developed by Barrick. The Pascua – Lama deposit has proven and probable reserves of 262 Mt containing 14 Moz gold and 440 Moz silver. Production is anticipated to begin in 2003, with an annual production of 1 Moz gold and over 50 Moz silver per year. Development of the orebody has occurred from both the Chilean (Pascua) and Argentinean (Lama) sides by Barrick’s subsidiaries, Compania Minera Nevada Sa and Exploraciones Mineras Argentina SA respectively. 1998 saw a 1km tunnel being developed across the two country’s borders. According to Barrick, Pascua is set to become South America’s largest gold and silver mine. Evaluation of the the nearby Veladero project (6km away from Pascua) is also current, with production anticipated to begin in 2003. Veladero has proven and probable reserves estimated at containing 8 Moz gold and 130 Moz silver.

The Cerro Vanguardia epithermal gold and silver deposit situated in Santa Cruz was developed by Anglo American Corp of Argentina (92.75%) and the Santa Cruz provincial company Fomicruz (7.5%). Full production began in 1999, with the mine producing 294 000 oz gold and 2.1 Moz silver in 2001. The mine has proven reserves estimated at 4 Mt grading at 8.7 g/t gold for 1.1 Moz gold.

Meridian Gold have merged with Brancote Holdings Plc that are focusing their efforts on the 76% owned Esquel Project located in Southern Argentina. Esquel is a high grade gold deposit with resources totalling 3.8 Moz gold and 7 Moz silver. Following the completion of a pre – feasibility study in late 2001, Esquel can expect to procuce in the region of 500 000 oz gold over a 10 year lifespan. Capital costs are estimated at $131 million with production beginning in 2004.

P>Production at Yamana Resources’ Martha Mine located in Santa Cruz Province in southern Argentina began in early 2001. This high grade silver – gold underground mine is expected to produce 3.2 Moz silver in its first year of operation. Still with silver, Canadian Silver Standard Resources are actively pursuing several high grade silver projects in Argentina. Pacific Rim Mining have sold the Diablillos silver gold prospect to Silver Standard – and according to previous studies, Diablillos has an inferred resource of 94 Moz of silver and 800 000 oz gold. Silver Standard is also evaluating the Manatial Espejo deposit located in Santa Cruz Province, southern Argentina.

Participating Organisations
AngloGold Ltd

AngloGold has 46.25% of a joint venture with Perez Companc S.A. and the Santa Cruz Province on the Cerro Vanguardia gold mine located in Santa Cruz.

Barrick Gold Corporation

Barrick is developing the Pascua – Lama gold deposit that straddles the Argentinia/Chile border. The nearby Veladero gold project is located close to the Pascua Lama project.

BHP Billiton

Following the acquisition of Rio Algom, BHP Billiton has a 25% interest in the Bajo de la Alumbrera copper – gold project in Argentina.

MIM Holdings Ltd

MIM have a 50% interest in the Bajo de la Alumbrera gold – copper mine in Argentina.

Rio Tinto Plc

Following tis acquistion of north Limited, Rio Tinto has a 25% interest in the Bajo de la Alumbrera copper – gold project in Argentina.

Yamana Resources Inc

Through its local subsidiary, Yamana Resources operates the high grade silver – gold Martha mine.

Euromoney Plc is organising Coaltrans Asia, 6 – 8th June 2004. The premier coal event in the Asian region celebrates its 10th anniversary in Bali.

Shaun Bakamoso

Greetings. I'm Shaun Bakamoso, and I'm thrilled to be your guide through the dynamic world of business news in South Africa here at mbendi.co.za. With a passion for staying informed and a keen interest in the ever-evolving landscape of business, I've dedicated myself to providing you with timely, insightful, and comprehensive coverage of the latest developments impacting the South African economy. bakamoso@gmail.com / Instagram