April 2022
With gold prices hitting record highs and the rising demand over the last year, it is essential to picture the upcoming projects that will contribute to the next development phase. As post-pandemic demand for gold picks up, the metal proves its worth as a hard store of value when money supply is high, increasing expectations for the industry.

Latin-America’s exploration investments: the largest in the world

Soto Norte Project - Minesa (80%), Aris Gold (20%)

The project consists of the development of an underground mine near California and Surata in the department of Santander, Colombia. It is considered one of the world's most significant feasibility-stage gold projects due to its high mineral reserves and low operating costs.

Aris Gold has completed a feasibility study technical report that demonstrates the production of over 450kozpa of gold at an average all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of US$471/oz.

The project has a 14-year mine life, based on probable mineral reserves of 5Moz of gold and is currently in the environmental licensing phase, expecting to start production by 2024.


Norte Abierto - Newmont Goldcorp (50%), Barrick Gold Corporation (50%)

Located in the Atacama Region, Chile, it is considered one of the largest undeveloped gold and copper deposits. The mine has Proven and Probable Reserves of 1.2Mt grading 0.60g/t and it is expected to start production by 2025.

The companies will also have to reassess a future campaign in Caspiche following a ruling by Chilean courts regarding possible impacts on surrounding indigenous communities.


Camino Rojo- Orla Mining (100%)

Orla Mining has begun commercial production last month at its Camino Rojo oxide gold mine in Zacatecas state, Mexico.

The declaration of commercial production comes after a successful commissioning period that began in October of last year. This included the ramp-up of mining and processing to sustained throughput levels over 75% of the designed nameplate capacity of 18ktpd.

Construction on the gold mine started in the September quarter of 2020, and the first gold poured was reported in December 2021, with three bars weighing 1.3oz of gold and silver.

The project is an open-pit heap leach operation with Mineral Resources expected to sustain mine life for 6.8 years and produce an average of 94koza of gold and 597koza of silver.

The operation will continue improving and optimising production during the first year focusing on near-mine and regional exploration to increase its oxide reserves. The company said it would also study the sulphide deposit development scenarios by testing targets identified in the 2021 drilling.



Alaska Projects

Donlin - Barrick (50%), Novagold (50%)

Located in Alaska, the second-largest gold-producing state in the U.S, Donlin Gold has approximately 39Moz Resources of gold grading 2.24g/t. The mine is expected to start production by 2025.

Barrick and Novagold have stated that constitute some of the best drill results for an open-pit gold project industry-wide, represented by the successful 79-holes Donlin Gold drill program that yielded excellent high-grade assays.

The project is considered one of the largest and highest grade undeveloped open-pit gold projects. Measured and indicated resources total 540Mt grading 2.24 g/t gold, containing 39Moz.



Australia, key gold exporter

The country has been a key gold exporter since the late 1800s and holds 17% of the world's total estimated gold reserves- equivalent to 9.5kt- being considered the second-largest gold producer in the world after China.


Bellevue Gold Project - Bellevue Gold (100%)

Bellevue Gold Mine is forecasted to be one of Australia's highest-grade, lowest-cost mines. The company recently released its Stage 2 Feasibility Study, which outlines a highly profitable gold mine with the first five years producing an average of more than 200koza. The project is currently under development, with the first gold pour planned for mid-2023.


Gold Industry Promises a Bright Future

The leading gold producer companies are elevating the exploration investment. In Latin America, five of the biggest gold production companies plan to invest up to US$882m in exploration for this year, 22% more than in 2021, when operations were interrupted because of the governmental lockdowns related to Covid-19.

Rising gold prices would allow gold miners to loosen their purse strings and spend to boost production, possibly exploring new mines, after years of cutting costs amid falling prices.

In recent years, gold miners have shifted their focus from increasing production at any price to economic measures such as generating free cash flow in the face of investor pressure.

They have also scrambled to discover new deposits to replace lost production, leading several industry experts and tycoons to forecast a perpetual decline in gold production from its current peak. According to the World Gold Council, the pace of gold mine discovery has slowed over the past three decades.

Currently, Australia, Canada and the United States absorb 40% of global spending on exploration. Miners could now turn to riskier and less explored countries in Latin America and Africa.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Mineral and Petroleum Exploration, the gold industry has been responsible for this growth, accounting for 48% of all exploration investments in Australia last financial year.