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Africa|Energy|Environment|generation|Gold|Indaba|Mining|Power|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Solar|Sustainable|Power Generation|Power-generation|Environmental

Barrick highlights importance of socioeconomic development in poor countries

8th February 2024

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The need to counter climate change and protect the environment should not distract attention from the need to achieve socioeconomic development in poor countries, Barrick Gold corporate sustainability executive Grant Beringer has cautioned. He was speaking in Cape Town, at a side event of the Investing in African Mining Indaba 2024 conference, hosted by environmental consultants Digby Wells.

“Uplifting those living in poverty is as important as managing climate change,” he affirmed. He pointed out that only one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals was concerned with climate change.

Not that his group was disregarding the threat of climate change. “We have an ambitious emissions reduction programme,” he highlighted. This was to achieve a 30% cut in its carbon emissions, baselined on 2018, by 2030.

However, the need for development remained. And, throughout history, “[m]ining has been a key driver of development”, although “it was fair to say” that mining companies had not always been socially responsible. But today, a social licence to operate was, he stated, at least as important as securing the requisite regulatory approvals.

“No human development is impact-free,” he pointed out. “Mining is no different.”

Mining development could indeed be done in a way that stimulated wider socioeconomic development and was climate-responsible. He cited his group’s Kibali gold mine, in the north east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. As there was no outside power source, the mine had to build its own power generation capacity; and this generation capacity not only served the mine but provided power to the communities surrounding it.  

Most (80%+) of Kibali’s power came from three small hydroelectric power stations, built by Barrick, on the Kibali river. The company was also in the process of creating a solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, to complement the hydroelectricity. Once the solar PV plant was commissioned, it would be possible to run Kibali on 100% renewable energy for at least six months, every year.

(The Kibali mine was also the most automated mine in Africa, but still employed 6 000 people.)

Through Kibali, Barrick was also supporting the restoration and re-securing of the Garamba National Park, 70 km north of the mine. Garamba had been devastated by decades of conflict and “militarised” poaching, which exterminated the park’s population of Northern White Rhinos. (This subspecies of rhinoceros was now “functionally extinct”.) Barrick has been the sole source of funding for the programme to reintroduce White Rhinos into the park, albeit and necessarily of the Southern White Rhino subspecies.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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