Canada’s B2Gold (TSX, NYSE: BTO) will become the sole owner of the Gramalote gold project in Colombia after acquiring the 50% stake held by South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti (JSE: ANG)(NYSE: AU)(ASX: AGG), its partner in the venture, for $60 million.
The gold project, located 124km northeast of Medellin, was put on hold in August last year, as preliminary results from an optimized feasibility study suggested that Gramalote did not meet the JV’s investment thresholds for mine development.
A few months later, the partners decided that selling Gramalote was the best option for both companies, but failed to find a third party to take over the project.
B2Gold said the consolidation of Gramalote under one owner would make it possible to analyze lower capital intensity, higher-return development opportunities for the project. It noted that so far, Gramalote was looked at as a larger scale project to provide meaningful production growth to both companies.
The Vancouver-based gold producer will now examine various smaller-scale development options to identify cost savings. It will also start a new study in the fourth quarter of this year, with the goal of completing an initial assessment by the end of the second quarter of 2024.
The acquisition of Gramalote will add 2.11 million gold ounces of indicated mineral resources and 0.74 million gold ounces of inferred mineral resources to B2Gold’s resource base.
Focus on higher-return assets
For AngloGold, the sale will help increase its focus on operating assets and projects it intends to develop, the company said in a separate statement.
“AngloGold Ashanti remains a committed, long-term investor in Colombia with our exciting Quebradona copper and gold project and we look forward to playing a key role in developing of a modern, responsible mining sector in the country,” chief executive officer Alberto Calderon said in the statement.
AngloGold will receive the $60 million from B2Gold in stages, with $20 million due on closing of the transaction and the remainder in tranches, depending on the achievement of certain milestones. If commercial production does not begin within five years of the transaction closing date, no payment will be made, B2Gold said.
Gramalote was B2Gold’s first project when it was an exploration company. In 2015, it received the first environmental license awarded in Colombia in 35 years.
The permit gave it three years to work through social aspects related to the open pit project, including relocating artisanal miners and some nearby residents.
During that time, Gramalote became the centre of a mining rights dispute with Canada’s Zonte Metals, which remains active.