JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Gold mining company Barrick is excited about ongoing opportunities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it is making progress with the new mining code, Barrick president and CEO Dr Mark Bristow told Mining Weekly Online on Thursday.
Bristow, whose Randgold Resources is now fully integrated into Barrick, was speaking against the background of the extensions to the recently discovered 11000 lode at the company’s highly successful Kibali gold mine as well as the increasing continuity and confirmation of the down-plunge extensions to the geology and mineralisation at Gorumbwa, in the DRC.
“We’re making progress with the DRC mining code. It’s a new country, new government. As you’ve read, we’ve met with them a number of times in Washington DC, Goma and Kinshasa and I’ve got a lot of hope for the DRC. It’s an exciting place," said Bristow.
At their meeting in Washington DC earlier this month, Congolese president Felix Tshisekedi and Barrick executive chairperson John Thornton confirmed their joint commitment to a partnership designed to develop the country’s gold mining industry.
Follow-up meetings held in-country between Tshisekedi, Bristow and their respective executive teams focused on partnership initiatives and strategies to support the continued growth of the mining industry for the benefit of investors, the Congolese nation and other stakeholders.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to find something in the DRC and we continue to explore there,” he added.
Kibali, ranked among the world’s top ten gold mines, has made a strong start to 2019 after setting a new production record last year. Barrick operates Kibali as a joint venture with AngloGold Ashanti and the Congolese parastatal Sokimo.
Kibali is continuing to break records en route to its 2019 guidance of 750 000 oz, the latest being the 285 000 t of ore hoisted through the shaft in March.
Throughput and recovery remain at or above nameplate levels and the African mine is continuing to lead the way in autonomous mining as well as on reserve and resource replacement.
Drilling is targeting the extensions of a complex of orebodies along a 30 km gold-bearing structure, and the western extensions of the Kibali Graben.
Kibali is one of five tier-one gold mines in the Barrick stable and in the past quarter, the mine spent $38-million with Congolese contractors, with the Durba road upgrade project being undertaken by 100% Congolese-owned and operated contractors that Kibali developed.
One of the first post-merger appointments has been that of Grant Beringer in the new position of group sustainability executive. At the same time an environmental, social and health and safety oversight committee, chaired by the president and CEO, has been established to monitor, review and update sustainability policies and practices throughout the organisation.
The energetic new sustainability team has embarked on an extensive stakeholder engagement exercise designed to understand the issues and devise mutually acceptable solutions. Site-level leadership has been involved in this process and sustainability is now a key reporting line on Barrick’s weekly executive committee call as well as a dedicated agenda item at the monthly management and quarterly board meetings.
“At the heart of Barrick’s sustainability vision is a commitment to contribute to the social and economic development of our host countries and communities. Last year, the combined organisation generated more than $8.2-billion in economic value across 16 countries through payments to governments, employees and suppliers, and through community investments,” said Beringer.
The company regards the DRC government as one of its most important partners across a potentially large and long-term investment horizon, which requires a mining code that equitably balances the interests of the State and the capital providers and allows both to participate fairly in the value creation that the mining industry offers.
“Africa’s our cash generator. We’ve got some really strong assets there and in Africa we’ve got to find our own assets because there are no other opportunities. There’s no short-term, low-hanging fruit in Africa,” Bristow commented to Mining Weekly Online.
Another of Barrick’s strong African assets is Loulo-Gounkoto, in Mali. But the currently fast-moving Barrick is certainly not short of options, which simply abound for the enlarged group.
It has an unrivalled gold resource bulkhead in the US, where Nevada Gold Mines, the new joint venture between Barrick and Newmont Goldcorp, is a classic case of the whole being more valuable than the sum of its parts.
“We’re under-invested in North America generally and Canada specifically so we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Bristow.
In Central America, it has Pueblo Viejo, in the Dominican Republic, which could potentially yield 800 000 oz for more than 15 years, and the large Veladero, in partnership with Shandong.
South America, where the company has strong positions in Chile, Argentina and Peru, is definitely the growth opportunity.
There is also Porgera in Papua New Guinea, which has been running for 28 years and has at least another 20 years ahead of it.
“I’m talking big mines. So it’s an exciting time,” Bristow added.