Modern Mining September 2016


While the company has cut back its overall exploration spending as much as the rest of the industry, its grassroots budget has held compar- atively steady, falling from US$73,5 million in 2012 to US$37 million in 2014, before rebound- ing slightly to US$41,5 million in 2015. Over the past decade, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd was the biggest spender on gold exploration among the companies in the study, with bud- gets totaling US$2,53 billion from 2006 to 2015. During the 2001-2015 period, the company is credited with shares in eight major gold discov- eries hosting 73,3 million ounces of attributable gold in reserves, resources and past production – the largest amount of gold discovered by any of the profiled producers, and more than twice the amount discovered by its nearest competi- tor, Barrick Gold. With gold prices continuing to rise through late August, SNL anticipates that, while com- panies will maintain their focus on existing operations, most will begin to reactivate mod- est early-stage efforts as part of their strategy to address the lack of new discoveries. Acknowledgement: The above article is authored by Robert Anders and appears on the SNL website:

operating regions, with a focus on near-mine activities. The company’s grassroots explora- tion budgets went from a high of more than US$92 million in 2012 to zero in 2015. By contrast, Gold Fields has been very successful with near-mine exploration, particularly at its orogenic-style orebodies in Australia and at Damang in Ghana. As the shrinking grassroots spending sug- gests, over the past six years the number of new discoveries has fallen drastically com- pared with the first decade of the 2000s. While some of the decline can be ascribed to recent discoveries still being too small to be con- sidered ‘significant’, the two-thirds drop in exploration budgets since 2012’s peak makes it extremely challenging for explorers to define new resources at their targets. For example, Barrick Gold Corp is credited with the only discovery identified for 2015 to date: the 5,5 million ounce Alturas deposit in Chile. Besides the discovery’s large size, a crucial factor in Alturas going from discovery hole to a defined, significant resource within the same year was the simple fact that Barrick has an ample early-stage exploration budget.


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September 2016  MODERN MINING  43

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