Despite having a long history behind it, AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine in Ghana is on course to operate for at least another 21 years as a result of the Obuasi Redevelopment Project which has an initial capex in the region of half a billion US dollars.
The project will transform the mine – which is estimated to have produced 32 Moz of gold over its life – into a modern mechanised and automated mining operation able to produce gold at an average run-rate of 350 000 to 400 000 ozpa for the first ten years, and above 400 000 ozpa over the life of mine, at all-in sustaining costs of around US$800/oz.
AngloGold Ashanti announced the go-ahead for the project in February 2018.
This brought to an end a period of uncertainty over Obuasi’s future, with the mine having been in what AngloGold Ashanti termed a “limited operating phase” since 2014.
“Impressively large investment into an already old asset to recapitalise and extend the life of mine for a significant time, adding significant value to all stakeholders.” – Jim Pooley
Crucial to the decision was the signing of regulatory and fiscal agreements by AngloGold Ashanti and the government of Ghana which created a viable framework for the project to proceed.
The project implementation is being undertaken in two distinct phases, with stage one comprising project establishment, mine rehabilitation and development, and plant and infrastructure refurbishment to enable production at a rate of 2 000 tpd for the first operating year.
The second phase increases capacity to 4 000 tpd and includes refurbishment of the underground materials handling system, shafts and ventilation, as well as construction of the primary crusher, the SAG/ball circuit, carbon regeneration, a new gold room and tailings storage facility.
“A well celebrated extension of mine life. Impressive after more than a century of operations.” – Marcus Courage
AngloGold Ashanti announced in December 2019 that the first pour of gold from the project had been achieved, on budget and within a tight schedule, effectively completing phase one.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the momentum on site has largely been maintained since then with AGA recently reporting that phase two was over two-thirds complete and that steady-state production was anticipated in 2021.
The underground mining services contract for the project was awarded to African Underground Mining Services in 2018 in partnership with Rocksure International, a Ghana-based mining contractor.
The equipment deployed by the joint venture was purchased by AngloGold Ashanti for US$45.8 million and consists primarily of Sandvik development and production drills and Sandvik load and haul machines.
The project is placing a premium on local content with Ghanaian companies having been given preference in the procurement of goods and services.
Employment has also prioritised Ghanaians from the immediate area around the mine wherever possible, with Ghanaians from elsewhere in the country being next in line for recruitment.