Gold and copper miner Barrick Gold’s Kibali mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produced 191 612 oz of gold in the first quarter of this year, thereby keeping it on track to achieve its full year production target.
The mine’s underground operation was the primary driver of production, while continuing improvements in the plant’s throughput and recovery rates also contributed to Kibali’s on-plan delivery.
In addition, efficiency improvement projects completed during the quarter, including an upgrade of the hoisting infrastructure, are expected to boost the mine’s performance further.
Meanwhile, Barrick notes that Kibali’s power generation costs benefitted during the quarter from higher river levels at the mine’s three hydropower plants, which supply the bulk of its energy requirements.
The power grid was further enhanced by the installation of a 9 MW battery support system, which will also decrease the need for diesel-generated backup, in line with the mine’s strategy of reducing its carbon footprint.
In terms of a Covid-19 impact on operations, Barrick reports that strict adherence to prevention protocols has largely shielded the mine from the impact of the pandemic’s second wave.
Looking ahead, Barrick says Kibali continues to replace resources and secure further openpit opportunities to balance its underground mine, and to replace reserves and add flexibility to the operation in support of its robust ten-year plan.
Further, Kibali maintained its investment in community development, among other things by advancing the Kibali-built Durba concrete road by 1.5 km.
The provision of additional potable water sources to the surrounding villages was also extended.
During the first quarter, Kibali also launched an innovative campaign to stimulate the Durba economy by issuing local shopping vouchers to employees.
Barrick president and CE Mark Bristow says Kibali continued to support the DRC’s Garamba National Park – one of the oldest in Africa and a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site – and that there had not been a single instance of elephant poaching during 2020.
The support programme includes tracking collars for elephants, fuel for tracker aircraft and infrastructural improvements. A plan to reintroduce white rhino and giant eland to the park is the next big undertaking, states Barrick.
“We look forward to working closely with President Felix Tshisekedi and his new coalition government in further strengthening our partnership with the DRC and to resolve certain outstanding issues around the mining code and the repatriation of cash,” says Bristow.
Since the development of Kibali started in 2010, the mine has contributed $3.5-billion to the DRC’s economy.