Veladero is a conventional open-pit operation where ore is crushed by a two-stage crushing process and transported via overland conveyor and trucks to the leach pad area.
Run-of-mine ore is trucked directly to the valley-fill leach pad.
In 2009, Veladero produced 611k oz of gold at total cash costs of $438 per ounce. Proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2009 are estimated at 12.0 million ounces of gold.
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.
The property is located at elevations of 4,000 and 4,850 metres above sea level, approximately 374 kilometres northwest of the city of San Juan.
Volcanics host epithermal mineralization. Veladero contains at least 8 alteration areas with an aggregate 14 sq km area. The property contains several large bulk-tonnage deposits of gold-silver mineralization in altered, silicified volcanic rock, dominantly various types of silicified breccia. The oxidized zone extends to considerable depth.
Mining & Operation
Veladero is a conventional open-pit operation. 2006 is the mine's first full year of production. There are two open pits, a truck shop, primary and secondary crushers located next to Filo Federico open pit, covered ore stockpile, secondary crusher and loadout bin, where trucks collect crushed ore to haul to the valley-fill leach facility.
The mine plan calls for mining 80 million tons per year of ore and rocks. Of that, 12.6 million tons of ore will be crushed and sent to the valley-fill leach pads; and 3.5 million tons of ore will be sent for additional processing, depending on the grade. Ore is crushed to 32 mm size in a two stage crushing process. Crushing may be needed first. Lime will be added to the ore to maintain a high pH.
The mine will produce an average 530koz ounces of gold per year in the first ten years of operations and 8.3 moz of silver per year as a by-product. Recovered gold will be smelted into doré on site and shipped to an outside refinery for processing into bullion.
Equipment that has been delivered includes 16 CAT 793C off-road trucks, 12 type 793 mining trucks, five D10R tractors, two 994D wheel loaders, three 16H motor graders, two type D11R bulldozers, two type 16H motorgraders and one type 854G wheel dozer.
Veladero uses the IntelliMine GPS and DISPATCH mine management systems, a MasterLink wireless communications backbone for increased data bandwidth throughout the site and field communication.
Power is provided by a generator with a capacity of 13 megawatts.
Ore is crushed and transported to impervious pads for heap leach extraction of gold.
The facilities consist of a valley-fill heap leach pad and a conventional Merrill-Crowe process gold and silver recovery plant.
Ore is stacked in a lined containment area behind a retention dam. A leach solution is applied to the top of the ore and allowed to percolate through the heap. As solution migrates through the ore, it leaches gold and silver from the rock and holds it in a solution.
Gold-bearing ("pregnant") solution is collected at the base of the leach pad in the pore space within the heap.
The pregnant solution is pumped to the gold recovery plant where suspended solids are removed and the solution is then treated in a conventional Merrill-Crowe precious metal circuit.