The Tropicana Joint Venture in Western Australia was formed in 2002 between AngloGold Ashanti Australia Ltd (70% and manager) and Independence Group NL (30%).
Tropicana was discovered 330 kilometres east-northeast of Kalgoorlie in 2005 after AngloGold Ashanti Australia followed up an unexplained gold-in-soil anomaly Independence Group had recognised in public domain regional data collected in the 1990s.
Subsequent exploration identified the Havana deposit and led to a detailed pre-feasibility study before a decision in July 2009 to commit to feasibility study based a Mineral Resource at the time containing 5.01 million ounces and an Ore Reserve of 3.3 Moz*.
The project was approved by the JV partners in November 2010, following a successful bankable feasibility study that was based on open cut mining of the Tropicana and Havana deposits, and treatment of 5.5 Mtpa of ore to deliver average gold production of 330,000 to 350,000 ounces per annum over a 10 year mine life. Start-up was targeted for the December quarter of 2013. Forecast capital costs were between A$820-$845 million.
The discovery of the Boston Shaker deposit and of mineralisation down plunge and along strike at Havana Deeps added to resources and by the end of 2012, the Measured Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource had grown to 7.89 million ounces of gold.
By early 2012 the 220 km long new access road from Pinjin to the remote site had been completed and construction of the treatment plant was underway. Open pit mining of the Havana Starter Pit began in July 2012 and first ore was sent to the crushing circuit in July 2013.
First gold was poured on 26 September, ahead of schedule and on budget, after two and a half years of construction and eight years after the initial discovery.
The processing plant successfully achieved its ramp-up target of 95% plant availability at a throughput rate of 5.8 million tonnes per annum within six months.
*See Reserve Resource Statement for current figures and relevant JORC disclosures.