Barrick gold mine shows its value in Mali

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Barrick Gold Corp. [ABX-TSX, GOLD-NYSE] said its Loulo-Gounkoto in Mali continues to demonstrate its value as a key socio-economic partner to the West African country. The operation, which was recently described by Barrick President and CEO Mark Bristow as one of the world’s greatest gold mining operations, went into production 17 years ago.

Speaking to the media on Mali, Bristow said last year the complex contributed US$260 million directly to the Malian economy in the form of dividends, royalties and taxes. “Indirect contributions, including payments of salaries and to suppliers, totalled US$570 million,” Bristow said.

Barrick has gold and copper mining operations and projects in 13 countries in North and South America, Africa, Papua New Guinea and Saudi Arabia.

The portfolio includes half of the world’s top 10 tier one gold assets (defined as having a mine life of over 10 years, at least 500,000 ounces of annual production and in the bottom half of global total cash costs).

According to preliminary production results, Barrick’s gold production for the full year of 2022 was 4.14 million ounces, about 1% below guidance.

Bristow said the giant Loulo-Gounkoto mine solidified its long-term outlook and maintained its historically consistent performance in 2022 by meeting its production target of between 510,000 and 560,000 ounces.

The operation is expected to replace its mined ounces for the fourth successive year. Meanwhile, the initial development of a third underground mine at Loulo-Gounkoto was commissioned and is on track to start ore production from stoping in the second quarter of this year. Key geological structures within the Loulo district (of Mali) have indicated the potential for further discoveries, Bristow said.

The goal is to extend the mine’s life beyond 2037.

“We continue to promote and develop our local partnerships, creating and contracting an all-Malian joint venture to mine the new Gara West open pit and engaging a Malian contractor to work with an international mining company on the pushback of the new Yalea pit.,’’ Bristow said.

“It is worth noting that our strong partnership network has been a significant factor in enabling Loulo-Gounkoto to maintain an exemplary performance in the face of many challenges recently experienced by Mali,’’ Bristow said.

The Barrick CEO went on to say that Malian nationals account for 100% of the complex’s management team and 96% of its workforce. “Our drive to diversify our employment profile is delivering results and three of Loulo-Gounkoto’s female mining engineers have been enrolled in the management development programme at Cape Town University’s Graduate School of Business,” he said.

Meanwhile, in keeping with Barrick’s global green energy strategy, Loulo-Gounkoto is expanding its solar power plant by 40 MW, targeting annual Co2 saving of more than 62,000 tonnes. Since its commissioning in August, 2020, the plant has cut emissions by 57,000 tonnes, Bristow said.

On January 27, 2023, Barrick Gold shares closed at $26.19 and currently trade in a 52-week range of $33.50 and $17.88.

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