Barrick Gold poised to expand African footprint

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Barrick Gold Corp. [ABX-TSX, GOLD-NYSE] said that with its North Mara and Bulyanhulu gold mines set to achieve combined production in excess of 500,000 ounces for the second year running, the company is looking to expand its East African footprint from this base.

Barrick inherited North Mara and Bulyanhulu mines in Tanzania via its acquisition of a 36% stake in Acacia Mining that it didn’t already own back in 2019.

Speaking to media at a briefing at a local school near the North Mara Mine, Barrick President and CEO Mark Bristow said the resurrection of these moribund mines, and their transformation into an asset with potential to be included in Barrick’s elite Tier One portfolio as a combined complex was a remarkable success story.

A Tier One Gold Asset is an asset with reserve potential to deliver a minimum of 10-year life, annual production of at least 500,000 ounces of gold and total cash costs per ounce over the mine life that are in the lower half of the industry cost curve.

“Our groundbreaking Twiga partnership with the Tanzanian government not only settled its long-running disputes with the mines previous operators, but has established a model for mutually beneficial cooperation between miners and their host countries, particularly in Africa,’’ he said.

The Twiga partnership is a joint venture formed in 2019 between Barrick and the government of Tanzania to manage the North Mara and Bulyanhulu mines.

“By demonstrating that Tanzania is an investor-friendly destination it also augurs well for the future of the country’s mining industry,’’ Bristow said.

Both North Mara and Bulyahnulu have been ramping up production, with North Mara hitting a record 505,000 tonnes of ore and waste mined last quarter. It continues to optimize the underground operation while the change to an owner-mining strategy has boosted the expansion of both mine and open pit operations.

At Bulyanhulu, the development of the main declines to access the Deep West zone of the orebody started last quarter. The production ramp-up at both mines is being supported by fleet upgrades.

“We continue to target further growth through reconnaissance and the consolidation of key licenses,’’ said Bristow. Extension opportunities are being assessed along the Gokona strike and throughout the Bulyanhulu Inlier,’’ he said. “Results from the deep drilling at Gokona are pointing to a significant potential for extending North Mara’s life.’’

Barrick recently said it remains on track achieve its production targets for this year, with gold expected to be at the low end of the range and copper production expected to be at the midpoint.

In the third quarter of 2022, Barrick reported preliminary gold production of 988,000 ounces, down from 1.04 million ounces in the second quarter.

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

On October 21, 2022, Barrick shares closed at $20.52 and currently trade in a 52-week range of $33.50 and $19.02.


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