Gold mining major Barrick is committed to its operations in Latin America and will reinvent the way its Veladero mine, in Argentina, operates and will devise a new plan for Lagunas Norte, in Peru, says CEO Mark Bristow.
The Veladero mine, in which China’s Shandong Gold Group is Barrick’s equal partner, is struggling with “internal and external challenges, including the currency devaluation and fiscal challenges”.
The mine in recent years suffered three cyanide solution leaks and its production is declining. In 2018, the company’s share of Veladero’s production came to 278 000 oz at an all-in sustaining cost of $1 154/oz. This year, production is forecast to be even lower in a range of 230 000 oz to 250 000 oz, owing to expected lower grades.
“To restore Veladero to its former tier-one status, we have to reinvent the way it has been operated and a team is on site to get a grip on the situation and find the best way forward,” Bristow says in the company’s annual report.
He adds that there are some significant potential resources that fall outside the current pit at Veladero and that these will be looked at.
During a tour in January of Barrick’s North and Latin American operations, Bristow and his executive team visited Veladero twice. The tour also took them to Pueblo Viejo, Lagunas Norte and Pierina.
At Lagunas Norte, which the company until recently tried to sell, Barrick will consider a new plan. The group has reversed a strategy to exit Peru and the new plan for Lagunas Norte will enable it to decide on its future in that country, Bristow states.
Further, a scoping study is also under way at Pueblo Viejo, in the Dominican Republic, to confirm expansion projects, while a feasibility study is under way on plans to keep up the current production rate and extend the mine life beyond 2035.
“Generally speaking, we intend to strengthen our presence in Latin America. As a first step, we have revitalised our exploration programmes there and are actively pursuing brownfields and greenfields opportunities across the region,” Bristow says.
Barrick is also establishing itself in the Guiana Shield through an investment in Canadian junior Reunion Gold.