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Yamana Gold, Glencore and Goldcorp sign an agreement for the integration of Agua Rica and Alumbrera

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

Goldcorp, Inc., Yamana Gold Inc. (Yamana) and  Glencore International AG (Glencore) (collectively the Parties) have announced the signing of an integration agreement (the Agreement), pursuant to which the Agua Rica project would be developed and operated using the existing infrastructure and facilities of Minera Alumbrera Ltd (Alumbrera) in the Catamarca Province of Argentina.

The Parties believe the integration of the Agua Rica project and the Alumbrera mine (the Integrated Project) has significant merit given the proximity of the assets, and the potential to realise significant synergies by taking full advantage of existing infrastructure associated with the Alumbrera mine for the development and operation of Agua Rica. Agua Rica hosts a large-scale, long life copper mineral resource with associated gold, silver, and molybdenum while the Alumbrera infrastructure is of significant scale and configuration that is ideally suited for the integration plan. Preliminary studies show the potential for a mine life in excess of 25 years at average annual production of approximately 236 000 t (520 million lb) of copper-equivalent metal(1), including the contributions of gold, molybdenum, and silver, for the first 10 years of operation. This is based on the Agua Rica mineral reserves estimated to contain proven and probable mineral reserves of approximately 4.5 million t  (10 billion lb) of copper and 6.5 million oz of gold contained in approximately 910 million t of ore.   

The agreement represents a significant step forward towards the optimisation of Agua Rica. The Alumbrera infrastructure, including the existing infrastructure for concentrate logistics located in northern Argentina between the mine site and the port, presents a unique opportunity to enhance project economics while also reducing both the project complexity and environmental footprint. 

The Parties have established a Technical Committee to direct the review and evaluation of the Integrated Project. It is expected that a pre-feasibility study for the Integrated Project will be completed in 2019 and that a full feasibility study with updated mineral reserve, production and project cost estimates will be completed by 2020. This will provide the framework for the submission of a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the authorities of the Catamarca Province and for the continued engagement with local stakeholders and communities.

The Parties have been working together with key government stakeholders to support a path forward for the evaluation and development of the Integrated Project. An agreement has been reached with the Catamarca state mining company, Catamarca Minera y Energética Sociedad del Estado (CAMYEN), in respect to CAMYEN's participation in the Integrated Project. The Catamarca Province has approved a closure plan for the progressive reclamation of the Alumbrera mine that synchronises with the advancement of the Integrated Project and is funded with existing cash of Alumbrera on reserve for reclamation activities. Yacimientos Mineros de Agua de Dionisio (YMAD) has indicated its support for the use of the Alumbrera infrastructure for the Integrated Project. Finally, the National Government implemented a mechanism that was pending since the 2003 reform of the Argentine Mining Investments Law, which sets out the framework for refund of amounts paid in excess of a mining project's overall tax burden, at a federal level. This supports fiscal stability of mining projects in country, and the Integrated Project specifically, as it advances.

In respect of the contribution of the Parties, Yamana will contribute its current 100% interest in the Agua Rica project and its 12.5% interest in Alumbrera, while Glencore and Goldcorp will contribute their respective 50% and 37.5% interests in Alumbrera. Full integration is expected to occur with the filing of the full feasibility study and EIA. The integration transaction structure will be determined based on the final construction financing plan, which may include completing a business transaction or other monetisation event involving one or more third parties with respect to the Integration Project, and which may include a going public transaction.  During this period the Parties will further advance the technical work to facilitate the permitting and dialogue with communities and stakeholders, perform confirmatory due diligence, finalise binding agreements with government stakeholders and finalise the legal integration structure.

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