The World’s Lowest Cost Gold Mines: Cortez Gold Mine

Cortez gold mine

Cortez is one of the world’s largest and lowest cost gold mines, and the property also has excellent upside exploration potential. In the first half of 2013, the mine produced 760,000 ounces of gold at all in sustaining costs of $392 per ounce and adjusted operating costs of $179 per ounce.

Cortez Gold Mine is processing facility in Lander and Eureka County, Nevada, United States, located approximately 75 miles southwest of Elko.
Proven and probable mineral reserves as at December 31, 2012, were 15.1 million ounces of gold.

The Cortez mine is located 100 kilometers southwest of Elko, Nevada in Lander County. The Cortez Pipeline property is 11 kilometers northwest and the Cortez Pediment property which includes the Cortez Hills deposit is 4 kilometers southeast of the original Cortez milling complex.

The Pipeline and South Pipeline deposits are mined by conventional open-pit methods. The Cortez property covers approximately 2,800 square kilometers on one of the world’s most highly prospective mineral trends.

Cortez employs three different metallurgical processes to recover gold. Lower grade oxide ore is heap leached, while higher-grade non refractory ore is treated in a conventional mill using cyanidation and a carbon in leach process. Heap leached ore is dragged directly to leach pads for gold recovery. Carbonaceous mill ore is mined intermittently during the mining of the Pipeline/South Pipeline deposits.

The Cortez Hills underground mine is accessed by twin declines portaled in the old Cortez Gold F canyon pit. The breccia ore zone employs underhand cut and fill mining methods with cemented rock fill as backfill. The top cut of the underground mine will eventually be the bottom bench of the Cortez Hills open pit.

You should note that Gold strike and Cortez are Barrick’s most productive gold mines and account for nearly one third of Barrick’s total production.

These mines are also among its lowest cost mines which give Barrick a vital competitive advantage, especially in the present circumstances when market headwinds are threatening the survival of many peers.