Americas

Our Americas region includes three operations, featuring both open pit and underground mining – one in Argentina and two in Brazil – and two advanced greenfields projects in Colombia.

Our operations in this region are:

In Argentina:

  • Cerro Vanguardia, in which AngloGold Ashanti has a 92.5% stake and Fomicruz, a state company operating in the province of Santa Cruz, the remaining 7.5%. The operation, located in the province of Santa Cruz, operates multiple small open pits with high stripping ratios and multiple narrow-vein underground mines that produces gold and silver as a by-product. The sale process for this asset is at an advanced stage and a decision is due shortly

In Brazil:

  • AngloGold Ashanti Córrego do Sítio Mineração (AGA Mineração) in the state of Minas Gerais, which comprises the Cuiabá complex, the Córrego do Sítio mining operation and the Cuiabá and Queiroz gold plants
  • Serra Grande, in the state of Goiás about 5km from the city of Crixás, comprises three mechanised underground mines and an open pit

In Colombia:

  • Gramalote, a joint venture between AngloGold Ashanti (51%) and B2Gold (49%), is located near the towns of Providencia and San Jose del Nus within the municipality of San Roque, northwest of the Department of Antioquia. It is approximately 124km north-east of Medellin, the regional capital of the Antioquia Department. B2Gold took over management of the project on 1 January 2020
  • Quebradona is situated in the Middle Cauca region of Colombia, in the Department of Antioquia, 60km south-west of Medellin. Five main targets have been identified, of which Nuevo Chaquiro is the most advanced

See <Exploration and projects> for further information on these projects.


Operating performance

Production

Total production for the Americas region in 2019 declined to 710,000oz compared with 776,000oz in 2018, a result of production declines at all three operations.

At AGA Mineração, performance at Cuiabá was impacted by poor ground conditions where, to ensure safe production, the rate of mining was slowed while a new surface support regime and mine sequencing plan were introduced. Early indicators show these new controls to be successful and condition monitoring will be ongoing as mining progresses in the deeper, higher grade areas.

At the Córrego do Sítio complex, geological model changes, open pit licence delays for the Rosalino orebody, geotechnical issues and unexpected heavy rains in the last two months of the year delayed the development and mining of the planned open pit mining areas.

At Serra Grande, the slightly lower production level in 2019 was due to lower feed grades, particularly in the second half of the year, and reduced drilling productivity and fleet availability. This was partially offset by higher tonnage treated following the Mina III pushback.

Cerro Vanguardia’s production was negatively affected in the second half of the year by the planned lower grades mined and a 42% decline year-on-year in silver production. This was partially compensated for by a higher average silver price.

Costs

The total cash cost for the region for the year was $736/oz in 2019 (2018: $624/oz) and the AISC $1,032/oz (2018: $855/oz). The increased costs were largely due to the decline in ounces sold, reduced silver by-product revenue from Cerro Vanguardia and inflation. The inflationary pressures which affected both Argentina and Brazil, included increases in wages, operational materials, this coupled with impact of changes in the estimation of rehabilitation provisions for the Brazilian operations as required by the new legislation. This was slightly offset by weaker currencies.

Capital expenditure

Total capital expenditure for the region was $195m, compared to $176m in 2018, with the increase largely driven by higher spend in Colombia on feasibility study work at Quebradona. Sustaining capital expenditure was spent mainly on Ore Reserve development at underground operations in Brazil and Argentina. At Cerro Vanguardia, capital expenditure for the year was spent primarily on development work and larger trucks to increase hauling and loading capacity, and to ultimately improve productivity.

Serra Grande is our only operation in Brazil with an upstream TSF. The current dam, which has a reinforced wall, will be converted to dry stacking as per the mine plan. Following the implementation of new legislation, the process will be accelerated. Decommissioning is expected to begin in September 2021 to ensure we comply with the revised legislation.

Growth and improvement

In Brazil, the strategy is to enhance mining flexibility and predictability by investing in Ore Reserve development, along with Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve conversions. More brownfields exploration is planned to increase the Ore Reserve and related confidence levels. This work will be vital in the upcoming year.

During 2019, Serra Grande transitioned to full owner development and development metres achieved increased by 10% compared to 2018 levels. At Cuiabá, a new international contractor in the Brazilian market was signed on in March 2019 and has to date delivered a 28% year-on-year increase in metres developed.

Cuiabá is also investigating the potential of new orebodies and a plan for deepening the mine.

At Córrego do Sítio (CdS) the focus is to re-open the CdS II underground mine. Along with a focus on Mineral Resource conversion and stabilising production, CdS will invest in looking at the potential of CdS III and the Rosalino open-pit expansion.

At Serra Grande, Palmeiras South underground mine is expected to commence delivering ounces in the first half in 2020.

In Argentina, Cerro Vanguardia, which has been in operation for over 20 years, is expected to see a reduction in grades from the open pit mines and lower contributions from silver compared to the previous years’ levels. To sustain the production plan, exploration will focus on converting new and already existing blue sky tangible and Inferred to Indicated Mineral Resource around current pits and underground operations in the main production zone. The exploration plan includes 25,000m of diamond drilling hole campaign, channels, trenches, geophysics surveys, among others.

Sustainability performance

In the Americas region, our principal sustainable development activities relate to the following material issues:

Employee safety

There were no fatalities in the Americas region in 2019. Safety improved overall with an AIFR of 3.84 recorded for the year. A Safe Production Programme, based on the Dupont Sustainable Solutions safety regime, is being trialled at Cuiabá, following the fatality that occurred in 2018 in Brazil. The programme aims to eliminate fatalities, transform the way we work, and create a sustainable organisational culture and work process. See the case study: Cuiabá Safety Production Programme from the <SR>.

The programme is currently being rolled out and will be completed by the end of 2020. Once completed, the programme will be implemented at all our Brazilian operations.


Contributing to resilient self-sustaining communities

In line with our values to leave communities better off for our having been there, in Brazil, as part of our corporate social responsibility, we have established a sustainable partnership programme that promotes local businesses (see the case study: Brazil’s Sustainable Partnerships Programme from the <SR>).

Community-related work included the voluntary resettlement of the Santos Reis community adjacent to Serra Grande, progressed notably during the year with 41 of 51 families settled in new homes in the nearby town of Crixás. The resettlement will allow work to begin on the open pit expansion.


Responsible environmental stewardship

In Brazil, two unrelated but catastrophic collapses of TSFs (at another company) in recent years have heavily influenced the shift in global environmental management regulations, particularly those relevant to the construction, management and regulation of TSFs, which will inevitably lead to increased compliance and operational costs. AngloGold Ashanti's Brazilian operations continued to accelerate the transition towards compliance with the requirements of new local laws and regulations. See the case study: Tailings storage facility management in Brazil from the <SR>.


Employee, community and asset security

In all countries in which AngloGold Ashanti operates, threat and risk assessments are conducted to determine which security resources are required. In Colombia, risk assessments categorise threats as high and require the involvement of state police and/or military units (public security forces) on a near-permanent basis.


Artisanal and small-scale mining

Illegal and artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) activities continued to pose a significant challenge to our activities in Colombia. We seek harmonious co-existence with legal ASMs. Our two-pronged approach involves providing direct support for the formalisation of ASM and promoting local enterprise development, which contributes to creating alternative livelihoods, and working with the country’s law enforcement agencies to protect our mining tenements. See case study: Gramalote partners with ASM to formalise mining from the <SR>


Navigating regulatory and political uncertainty and risk
South America experienced a wave of political volatility, fuelled by a long-term decline in living standards and exacerbated by global trends of high economic inequality. The rise of anti-establishment politics continued to swing between left- and right-wing governments, creating some political turbulence in the region. We will continue to engage with the relevant government and external stakeholders to mitigate this risk.