2022 is going to be another big capex year for Gold Fields, given the deferral of spending at Salares Norte in 2021 as well as the elevated level of sustaining capex across the portfolio, in order to maintain the production base of the Group.
At this point in time, Gold Fields is not in a position to provide 2022 production guidance for Asanko. Consequently, Group guidance excludes our share of the Asanko Joint Venture. We expect Galiano, who are the operators of the Asanko Mine, to update the market on the outlook for Asanko by the end of Q1 2022.
For 2022, attributable gold equivalent production (excluding Asanko) is expected to be between 2.25Moz and 2.29Moz. AISC is expected to be between US$1,140/oz and US$1,180/oz, with AIC expected to be US$1,370/oz to US$1,410/oz. If we exclude the very significant project capex at Salares Norte, AIC is expected to be US$1,230/oz to US$1,270/oz.
The increase in AIC excluding Salares Norte is due to higher sustaining capital expenditure mainly at South Deep and Damang and higher cost of sales before amortisation and depreciation as a result of inflationary increases partially offset by higher production.
The exchange rates used for our 2022 guidance are: R/US$15.55 and US$/A$0.76.
Total capex for the Group for the year is expected to be between US$1.050bn and US$1.150bn. Sustaining capital is expected to be between US$625m and US$675, with
non-sustaining capex expected to be between US$425m and US$475m. The largest component of the capex budget for the year is Salares Norte project capital, with US$330m expected to be spent.
Group production and costs have been flexed for inherent operating risks which relate to all or some of the mines. The risk of stoppages due to COVID-19 has not been factored into any guidance estimates in the Group. The extent to which COVID-19 impacts on either production or costs is indeterminable at this stage.
After a strong performance in 2021, South Deep is set to continue on the growth trajectory previously outlined. We expect production to grow by a further 20-30% to 345koz - 375koz over the next 3-4 years. We expect the growth to be more or less linear over the coming years and forecast production for 2022 of 312koz (c.7% increase from 2021).
As we continue to deliver into the Damang Reinvestment Plan, 2022 will be the last full production year at the mine, with production expected to be c.230koz for the year. Thereafter, we expect production to decline to c.150koz in 2023 with production for the last two years of life (2024 and 2025) derived from stockpile treatment. In the meantime, project studies are underway to determine whether life extension projects are financially viable. We will provide an update on these projects later in the year.
Salares Norte continues to progress according to plan. Total project progress is expected to be 90% by the end of 2022. First gold remains on track for end Q1 2023. The plant is expected to take nine months to ramp up to full production. Based on this ramp up, we expect production to be c.200koz in 2023, with 2024 being the first full year, with production of c.550koz.
Production at the other assets in the portfolio are expected to be stable over the next three years. Taking into account the above, we expect production for the next three years to be:
2022: 2,250koz - 2,290koz
2023: 2,375koz - 2,425koz
2024: 2,720koz - 2,770koz
The above is subject to safety performance which limits the impact of safety-related stoppages and the forward-looking statement on key statistics and certain forward looking statements, respectively.