Mr. Mark Bristow reports
LOULO-GOUNKOTO BEATS GUIDANCE, PLANS TO REPLACE DEPLETED RESERVES
Barrick Gold Corp.'s Loulo-Gounkoto mine complex delivered production of 680,215 ounces of gold in 2020, exceeding its full-year guidance despite COVID-19 and other challenges (1). All amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars.
At the same time, it improved its safety performance, reducing its lost-time injury frequency rate (2) by more than half compared with 2019 and achieving a lost-time injury-free year in its underground operations. The complex retained its ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 health, safety and environmental certifications.
The underground operations have reached a world-class level of automation, hard on the heels of pacesetter Kibali. The two existing underground mines, Yalea and Gara, will shortly be joined by a third when Gounkoto underground delivers its first ore tonnes, planned for the second quarter of this year.
In another major technological advance, Loulo commissioned Barrick's first solar power plant in the Africa and Middle East region, delivering 20 megawatts of capacity into the microgrid. Projects scheduled for completion in 2021 include the commissioning of a water treatment plant, an expansion of power generating capacity and a power line upgrade to support the new Gounkoto underground mine.
The complex continued to support and develop local businesses, spending more than $375-million with local contractors and suppliers in 2020. Its accelerator program, designed to equip budding businessmen and women with commercial skills, established 48 entrepreneurs and granted them credit totalling about $390,000. Loulo-Gounkoto's local content program was further improved by the formation of a transport consortium, which incorporates most of its existing Malian transport providers.
In a presentation to local media and stakeholders at Loulo today, Barrick president and chief executive officer Mark Bristow said that as a result of continuing successful exploration, the complex's gold reserves were now larger than they had been 15 years ago, and indications were that the company would once more have replaced ounces depleted by mining in 2020.
"The Loulo district lies at the heart of one of the world's most prolific gold regions. Over the past 15 years, this has delivered more world-class discoveries than any other, and our extensive exploration programs are designed not only to replenish our reserves but to find our next Tier 1 (3) mine," he said.
Loulo and Gounkoto paid and declared combined dividends of $240-million for 2020. Over the past almost 24 years, Barrick and its legacy company Randgold Resources contributed $7.7-billion to Mali's economy in the form of taxes, royalties, salaries and payments to local suppliers. Its annual contribution amounts to between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of the country's GDP (gross domestic product).
The company hosted Mali's Minister of Mines, Lamine Seydou Traore, and a delegation from his department, who visited the mine and toured the operation with the Barrick team.
On a 100-per-cent basis.
Lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) is a ratio calculated as follows: number of lost-time injuries times one million hours divided by the total number of hours worked. Lost-time injuries are injuries that occur in the execution of duties that mean the person is unable to perform those duties for at least one day.
A Tier 1 gold asset is an asset with a reserve potential to deliver a minimum 10-year life, annual production of at least 500,000 ounces of gold and total cash costs per ounce over the mine life that are in the lower half of the industry cost curve.
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