AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU) and B2Gold (TSX:BTO) have put the $925 million Gramalote Colombian gold project on track to go up for sale by the end of the year. The companies reviewed alternatives for the project located in the northeastern department of Antioquia, but decided that it is in all stakeholders’ best interest to sell the project. This was noted in a third-quarter results report from B2Gold.
In August, the project was put on hold due to preliminary results from an optimized feasibility study suggesting that the project didn’t meet the joint venture’s investment thresholds. This meant the project could not be advanced to mine development. With the study completed, divesting became the best option for both companies.
Feasibility studies aim to evaluate the economic viability of a project and suggest a path to mine development. However, without a successful study, projects lose their value over time and may end up costing more than projected to develop.
For AngloGold Ashanti, selling the company is also a preferred option. The sale could allow AngloGold to focus on bigger assets, primarily the Guebradona gold-copper project in Colombia, valued at $1.4 billion. After a refusal from the environmental regulator ANLA to reopen the application for an environmental license for the project due to lack of information, the company will resubmit in 2023.
The mine could also become the country’s largest copper development with an estimated production of 137 million pounds copper concentrate per year with a phase one mine life of 22 years. The company has shifted focus to from its home country to other mines in Australia, Ghana, and Latin America in recent years. This strategy comes as the industry in South Africa has continued to shrink with soaring costs, power cuts, and geological challenges creating too many headwinds for many miners to make projects economically feasible.
Copper exploration has come to the forefront as a priority for the industry as a green technology and energy transition continues to speed up. Copper is used for a wide range of applications from wiring and construction to automobiles, renewable energy, and new medical technologies.