Barrick revitalizes Veladero mine
Barrick Gold announced Monday that the life of its jointly owned Veladero mine in San Juan, Argentina has been extended to at least 10 years following a comprehensive review of its strategy and business plan.
In a media briefing conducted via video conferencing to comply with the Covid-19 related travel restrictions imposed by Argentina, Barrick boss Mark Bristow said the company’s aim is to extend Veladero’s life of mine beyond 2030 and elevate it to a “tier one” asset.
Bristow defines a tier one mine as one that produces in excess of 500,000 ounces of gold per annum and has a life of at least 10 years.
In the case of Veladero, Barrick has reviewed the reinterpretation of the mine’s geology and an ongoing drilling campaign, and established exploration and management teams to identify satellite orebodies with the potential to deliver an increase in resources and reserves.
In August last year, Barrick announced that it would spend $34 million to extend Veladero’s mine life, with the goal of bringing Veladero back to its glory years.
The next step in Veladero’s development would be to connect the mine to cleaner, cheaper power from the grid in neighbouring Chile, the company said. Once commissioned in the second half of this year, this could halve the mine’s carbon footprint and potentially reduce its cut-off grade, creating an opportunity to further increase the mineable reserves.
Projects related to revitalizing Veladero, such as the leach pad expansion created new employment opportunities, with the number of direct employees and contractors rising by 1,400 to almost 5,000 since January 2019. The number of local suppliers has also increased by almost threefold during this time. In line with the company’s local employment policy, 99% of Barrick’s workforce are Argentinian.
Veladero is a 50/50 joint venture operation with China’s Shandong Gold. The mine is forecast to produce between 240,000 and 270,000 ounces of gold this year at an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of $1,250 to $1,300 per ounce.