What is the potential of responsible mining and modern mining processes in Colombia?
At AngloGold Ashanti, every mining project should deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits. Through responsible mining practices, companies can create community development programs, take proactive measures to preserve the environment, and promote gender equality to empower local communities and enable them to benefit more from mining activities. Responsible mining would also engage the use of automated equipment and digitalization to optimize efficiencies, reduce emissions, and provide an inherently safer working environment.
How is AngloGold Ashanti positioned in Colombia's mining industry?
AngloGold Ashanti is the largest explorer in Colombia. We manage the three biggest projects in the country; two of them, Gramalote and Quebradona, are categorized as projects of national strategic interest. In 2019, La Colosa was the third such project in our portfolio, but we have since reached a non-formal agreement with the government and local community to halt its development. The two biggest projects we are working on are both located in Antioquia. While Gramalote is an open-pit, low-grade gold mine, Quebradona is an underground mine with higher quality gold (20%) and copper (80%) deposits.
What is it like operating in Colombia?
It all depends on the regional jurisdiction the company is located in. Some areas are easier to navigate than others, mainly based on the local understanding of mining and their past experience of mining, in addition to the outlook of the public sector. Having a successful operation can demonstrate the benefits and success that local mining can bring to communities, particularly to those who have concerns. Overall, the situation in Colombia as a whole is improving. All the relevant authorities are working on policies and the regulatory framework so that mining in the country is sustainable. Community and local engagement are critical to mining in any location.
What are the company's plans for the Gramalote and Quebradona projects?
We have acquired the license for the Gramalote mine and are planning to present the feasibility study to our different boards—B2Gold is a partner and manages the project—early in 2021. Assuming the board approves it, we aim to start building it by mid-2021. We are still working on the license for the Quebradona project and aim to also present the feasibility study to our board in 1Q2021. Our company has an investment return hurdle of 15% for new projects.
How is the company planning to generate benefits for local communities?
Quebradona is our flagship project, and we want to use it as a model of responsible mining. So far, we have held 160-170 public hearings with more than 3,000 members of local communities. Our main goal is to transform the underground wealth into social benefits. We propose to build the mine in a 2,500-ha biodynamic park. Our idea is to make the park self-sustainable. To that end, we will generate solar energy and create spaces for businesses. The park will be managed by a third party, and the profits will go to local communities. The mine itself will have a huge economic impact in terms of royalties, taxes, and jobs. The foundation will receive a minimum of USD2 million. If we sell more, the foundation will receive more. This foundation is separate from our social corporate responsibility projects. The foundation will be 100% managed by people from Jericó, Antioquia.