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Brazil produced about 81t of gold in 2014, positioning itself as the world's 11th largest producer, according to the latest data from the country's minerals production department DNPM.
In the light of rising gold prices, BNamericas asked Mathias Heider, mineral resources specialist at DNPM, about the outlook for near-term gold projects in Brazil and those that are stalled.
DNPM is a Brazilian federal agency and is part of the mines and energy ministry. It is responsible for managing and monitoring the performance of the mining and metals industry, as well as compiling statistics.
This is the first of a two-part interview.
BNamericas: On Wednesday, Brazil-focused junior Belo Sun Mining announced it has closed a share offering to advance its Volta Grande gold project. How is the project going?
Heider: Volta Grande has found obstacles within the federal prosecutor's office, its proximity to indigenous communities, and an environmental impasse with partner communities. There are questions about whether the environmental licensing should be at the federal and not at the state level.
The company expects to inject about US$1.1bn in the project and get 4.6t/y of gold in a 20-year period.
BNamericas: Currently, what are the most important gold projects being developed in Brazil?
Heider: Among all gold projects being implemented in Brazil, Tocantinzinho, Borborema, Volta Grande, Mara Rosa and Gurupi are expected to add about 15t/y to Brazil's gold output, without taking into account all the other smaller projects or those being initially surveyed.
BNamericas: Can you tell us about Brazil's largest gold producers and the projects being developed by them?
Heider: By output, the largest producers in Brazil are AngloGold Ashanti, Kinross, Yamana and local subsidiary Brio Gold, followed by mining giant Vale, Jaguar and Beadell, but several other companies are currently prospecting for gold in the country.
As examples, Jaguar is assessing the Gurupi and Pedra Branca projects, and Beadell is surveying its Tartaruga gold project.
AngloGold is developing the Lamego project. Minera Gold has four projects being assessed: Engenho, Crista, Olhos and Mazorca, while Cleveland Mining has projects Premier, O Capitão and Mara Rosa.
Brazil Resources is studying Artulândia, Montes Aureos, Trinta and Mauá.
Lara is developing Campos Verdes, and Amarillo the Mara Rosa and Lavras do Sul projects.
Other miners worth a mention include Ashburton, Rio Novo, Crusader and IAMGOLD. Furthermore, Orinoco Gold acquired Troy Resources' assets aiming for future developments.
BNamericas: Brazil's Pará state is home to Vale's largest iron ore reserves. But when it comes to gold, how is the state faring?
Heider: Pará is home to several gold projects being developed. Companies active in the state are Eldorado Gold (the Tocantinzinho, Água Branca, Bom Jardim, Piranhas projects), Belo Sun, Aura (Cumaru, Inajá and Norte Carajás), Brazil Resources (São Jorge, Surubim, Boa Vista), Amerix (Limão and Serra Dourada), Magellan (Coringa, Cuiú-Cuiú, Porquinho, Maranhense, União), Luna Gold (Cachoeiro), Verena (Patrocínio), Brazilian Gold (São Jorge, Boavista, Surubim), Guyana Fontier (Falcão) and Horizonte (Tangará), among others.
Colossus' project Serra Pelada was suspended but Sandstorm is assessing its resumption. On the other hand, copper-gold projects like Avanco's Antas North will allow for increased gold output in the country.
Furthermore, Vale's copper projects in Pará, namely Sossego, and Salobo I and II, are already in production.
About Mathias Heider
Mathias Heider is a mineral resources specialist and has been a division head at Brazil's minerals production department DNPM since May 2006. He previously served as a senior analyst in state bank Caixa Econômica Federal. Heider holds a PhD in mineral economics.