World number three gold mining company AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU) is halting plans to develop its $2 billion La Colosa project in Colombia after voters in a referendum held in the central Tolima region overwhelmingly opted for a ban.
AngloGold has been advancing the project for 14 years and La Colosa had the potential to become on of the largest gold mines in the world.
The deposit, 150km west of Bogota, boasts proven and probable reserves of 25.4 million ounces ranking it in the top ten gold deposits in the world.
The Johannesburg-based company said it had to stop all exploration work and investment at the 100%-owned project until “there’s certainty about mining activity in the country and Tolima”.
According to Reuters AngloGold has invested roughly $900 million in Colombia over the past decade and La Colosa was the largest of its three projects in the country:
The Tolima vote was made possible by a Constitutional Court decision that overturned the national government’s sole authority to approve mining projects, allowing mayors and provincial governors to challenge exploration permits, to the delight of environmental groups and some politicians.