Location: The Veladero mine is located in the San Juan province of Argentina, immediately to the south of the Pascua-Lama property, in the highly prospective Frontera district.
Controlling Company: Barrick Gold (100%).
Brief History: The deposits at Veladero mine were discovered in 1997. However, development of the mine only started in 2002, with production beginning in 2005.
Brief Overview: Barrick’s Veladero mine has helped trigger a remarkable economic turnaround in Argentina’s San Juan province, according to a recent study. Between 2004 and 2011, the province’s unemployment rate fell 36 percent, and per capita income surged 177 percent to $5,260 from $1,900. Exports jumped 12-fold to $2.5 billion from $211 million, and the province’s manufacturing sector grew at an average annual rate of 13.5 percent, twice the national average.
“Veladero has made an enormous economic contribution in San Juan,” says Alfredo Lasalvia, lead author of a study by the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (UTN) that measured Veladero’s socioeconomic impact on San Juan. “Economic growth in San Juan outpaced every other province in Argentina between 2007 and 2010, and Veladero played a big part in that. We estimate the mine contributes about 34 percent to San Juan’s GDP.”
Veladero is located in northeast San Juan more than 4,000 meters above sea level. It is the second largest private sector employer in the province (Barrick’s Pascua-Lama project is the largest) with about 3,500 workers, 85 percent of whom are from San Juan. The mine, which went operational in 2005, produced 766,000 ounces of gold in 2012.
The economic impact of Veladero has manifested itself in a myriad of ways, including payment of taxes and royalties, hiring of local residents, and procurement of goods and services in San Juan and other parts of Argentina. In 2005, Veladero paid just $513,000 in royalties to the San Juan government, according to the UTN study. By 2011, royalty payments totaled $48 million and accounted for 86 percent of all royalties collected by the San Juan government.
In 2011, Veladero spent $428 million on goods and services in Argentina, including $190 million in San Juan alone. “veladero generates numerous opportunities for suppliers in San Juan, which leads to the creation of new companies and the growth of existing ones,” Lasalvia says. “That means more jobs are being created, which puts more money in peoples’ pockets, which drives economic activity in the province.”
Brief Description: The Veladero mine currently produces ore from two pits, with an expected minimum mine life of 16 years. Geology/Mineralisation: The Veladero mine property contains several large deposits of gold and silver mineralisation in altered, silicified volcanic rock, and various types of silicified breccia.
Main-stage mineralisation is superimposed on the Miocene volcanic vent complex of diatreme breccias, associated pyroclastic rocks, flow domes, and porphyry intrusions.
Reserves: Proven and probable mineral reserves as at December 31, 2013, were 5.1-million ounces of gold.
Mining Method: Veladero is a conventional openpit operation. Major Infrastructure and Equipment: Ore is crushed using a two-stage crushing process and transported by overland conveyor and trucks to the leach pad area. Run-of-mine ore is trucked directly to the valley-fill leach pad.
Prospects: Gold production in 2014 is expected to be 650 000 oz to 700 000 oz, reflecting increased recovery of leached ounces and higher grades from the Argenta and Filo Federico pits.