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AngloGold settles DRC ‘key concerns’

Posted: Mon, 07 Aug 2006

[] -- ANGLOGOLD Ashanti considers the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to be one of three highly prospective areas in which it is confident it can explore “in house”, according to business development officer Richard Duffy.

Addressing the Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Duffy said the other two regions were Colombia and Australia where it was focused on the Tropicana project in Western Australia.

AngloGold Ashanti had sold its Alaskan mineral exploration properties to junior International Tower Hill mines in order to concentrate its “in house” efforts on the three other countries.

Duffy said that in other regions AngloGold Ashanti’s strategy was to explore in partnership with established local operators. Countries where such joint venture’s were in place in addition to Alaska include Russia, China, Laos and the Philippines.

AngloGold Ashanti’s exploration work in the DRC is concentrated on the Kilo Moto region of the north-east where its operations were severely criticised a year ago by international non-governmental organisation (NGO) Human Rights Watch. Duffy said that AngloGold Ashanti has engaged with the NGO since then and “addressed their key concerns.”

Human Rights Watch criticised AngloGold Ashanti for helping to finance discontent in the DRC after its field staff in Mongbwalu paid a $8,000 bribe to local armed militia.

Human Rights Watch said AngloGold Ashanti had put business considerations above human rights. It asked the gold group to consider temporarily suspending gold exploration in Ituri if such operations require cooperation with armed groups.

Bobby Godsell, AngloGold CEO, rejected Human Rights Watch’s accusations over its criticism of the company’s human rights track-record, but agreed to a request to pull out exploration staff if they have to pay bribes to secure their safety.

Updating the situation in the DRC, Duff said at the Diggers and Dealers Conference that conditions were now far more stable in the region. AngloGold Ashanti had focused its exploration work so far on just 15 square kilometres of the 10,000 square kilometres concessions which it holds, he said.

Duffy said plans were to delineate a gold resource of 3 million oz within the next 12 months after which the group would look to carry out a feasibility study on the project by the end of 2009. The group had stepped up its drilling activities following the arrival of a second drill rig.

Turning to Australia, Duffy described Tropicana as a gold discovery in “a previously unrecognised gold mineralised belt.
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“Work to date indicates the mineralisation is hosted within high grade metamorphic rocks and is probably of Proterozic age. As such, it is distinct from the typical and older Archaen greenstone-hosted gold deposits in the Yilgarn.”

Duffy said that the mineralisation at Tropicana had been outlined over a 1.4 km strike length and current drilling was aimed at testing the down-dip extension which remained open. Results from in-fill drilling in the June quarter included 34m at 4g/t and 29m at 4.37g/t. AngloGold Ashanti planned to start a pre-feasibility study at Tropicana in 2007.