The Veladero gold mine, in Argentina, is being revitalised, following a review of its strategy and business plan, with its life extended by at least ten years.
During the review, gold major Barrick reinterpreted the mine’s geology and continued with an infill drilling campaign.
“We established exploration and resource management teams to identify satellite orebodies with the potential to deliver an increase in resources and reserves,” said CEO Mark Bristow on Monday.
The group’s aim is to extend Veladero’s life-of-mine beyond 2030 and elevate it to a tier-one asset, he said during a video conference with an audience of Argentinian media, government authorities and community leaders.
Elevating Veladero to a tier-one operation will mean a significant increase in the mine's production. Barrick defines a tier-one mine as one that produces more than 500 000 oz/y of gold and has a life of at least ten years. Veladero produced 274 000 oz in 2019 and is forecast to produce between 240 000 oz and 270 000 oz in 2020.
The next step in the mine’s transformation would be to connect the mine to cleaner, cheaper power from the grid in neighbouring Chile. Once commissioned in the second half of this year, this could halve the mine’s carbon footprint and potentially reduce its cut-off grade, creating an opportunity to further increase the mineable reserves.
Projects related to revitalising Veladero, such as the leach pad expansion, have created new employment opportunities, with the number of direct employees and contractors rising by 1 400 to almost 5 000 since January 2019, and the number of local suppliers increasing almost threefold. In line with Barrick’s local employment policy, 99% of Barrick’s workforce are Argentinian.