Barrick Gold Corp.’s [ABX-TSX, GOLD-NYSE] Loulo-Gounkoto gold complex is set to remain a major contributor to the Malian [West Africa] economy well into the future as the company continues to replace the ore depleted by mining, said Barrick President and CEO Mark Bristow.
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).
They include Cortez and Goldstrike in Nevada, Kibali in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Loulo-Gounkoto in Mali, and Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic.
Barrick has said Loulo-Gounkoto is on track to produce between 640,000 and 700,000 ounces of gold this year.
Mines operated in Mali by Barrick and predecessor Randgold have spent some $8 billion in the country in the form of taxes, royalties, salaries and payments to local suppliers over the past 24 years. To date this year, the company has paid US$318 million to the government in taxes, royalties and dividends and invested more than US$13 million in community wellbeing projects ranging from health and education to economic development initiatives such as the Business Accelerator Program, designed to equip entrepreneurs with management skills.
Speaking at a media briefing, Bristow said Loulo-Gounkoto is on track to meet its annual production guidance, with its new underground mine at Gounkoto – the complex’s third underground operation – ramping up to production.
Loulo-Gounkoto is forecasting production of 640,000 and 700,000 ounces of gold this year.
Through successful exploration, it is on track to increase mineral reserves net of depletion for the third successive year and promising results from the Yalea Ridge and Gounkoto-Faraba targets reaffirm the potential for further life-of-mine extensions.
“Loulo-Gounkoto is one of the world’s greatest gold mining operations and it continues to confirm its status as a member of the industry’s Tier One club as well as the largest private sector contributor to Mali’s GDP,’’ Bristow said.
“In addition to the enormous value it creates for stakeholders, Loulo-Gounkoto also aspires to a high level of social responsibility,’’ he said. Almost 40% of employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and 335 people have been vaccinated in the surrounding community.
Security staff and other employees who come into contact with the community have undergone rigorous training in human rights. “Work is also under way to secure the new certification standardized by the International Cyanide Management Institute,’’ Bristow said.
He said Loulo-Gounkoto is maintaining its commitment to the employment and advancement of host country nationals, in line with Barrick’s global policy, and people form the nearby Kenieba village have been successfully trained to operate key equipment at the new Gounkoto underground mine. The complex is almost entirely staffed and managed by Malian citizens.
On Monday, Barrick shares rose 1.7% or 39 cents to $23.13 on volume of 1.24 million. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $38.76 and $22.30.