Barrick Gold poised for growth in Mali, CEO says

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Barrick Gold Corp. [ABX-TSX, GOLD-NYSE] said a 26-year-old partnership between Barrick (previously Randgold) and the state of Mali has built that country’s gold industry into a world leader and positioned it for further growth, said Barrick President and CEO Mark Bristow.

Bristow said his company will continue to invest in the future of the Loulo-Gounkoto mine in Mali, an operation that the Barrick CEO has described as one of the world’s greatest gold mines. It went into production 17 years ago.

“Successful exploration is more than replacing the ounces we mine as well as identifying new growth opportunities with the potential to deliver the next generation of major discoveries in the Loulo region,’’ Bristow said.

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 company recently reported first quarter production of 950,000 ounces of gold and 88 million pounds of copper.

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).

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 new underground mine at Gounkoto – the complex’s third – has developed its first production stopes and the Yalea South cutback is ahead of plan, Bristow said.

“We forsee that the complex will be a major contributor to the Malian economy for years to come,” he said. “The achievement of that vision will require the continued commitment to the mutually rewarding partnership which has brought us this far and delivered sustainable benefits to all stakeholders, including the country’s citizens.’’

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.

In line with Barrick’s global policy of local procurement, Malian suppliers accounted for 74% of the complex’s purchases, amounting to US$298 million, during the first half of 2023.

Turning to Loulo-Gounkoto’s operations, Bristow said the complex was continuing to perform strongly and was on track to achieve its production guidance for this year.

On Tuesday, Barrick Gold shares were largely unchanged, easing up 0.27% or $0.06 to $22.47 on volume of 237,230. The shares and currently trade in a 52-week range of $28.19 and $17.8.

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