Barrick Gold Corporation, operator of the Kibali gold mine, has announced a $1.5 million support program to help combat and contain the Covid-19 pandemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Barrick’s chief operating officer for the company’s Africa and Middle East region, Willem Jacobs, says the company believes the current situation requires a national response from all who have the DRC’s interests at heart.
Barrick, as a committed partner to the DRC, has structured a detailed Covid-19 support program for the country, which was communicated to the government at the beginning of the month by Barrick president and CEO Mark Bristow.
Barrick’s DRC country manager, Cyrille Mutombo, has met with the Prime Minister, HE Sylvestre Ilunga Ilumkamba, and informed him that Kibali had put in place measures to ensure continuity of its operations and to protect workers and their families living around the mine. This program is being managed by the mine’s own doctors and health workers, who are experienced in dealing with deadly infections such as Ebola.
This new package was an addition to those efforts and includes the supply of critical equipment to the value of $632,000 at the national level, $488,000 at the provincial level and $380,000 at the local level.
The Prime Minister noted that the DRC had launched a National Solidarity Fund for Covid-19 and said he was delighted that Barrick was among the first to respond with such a substantial contribution.
He requested the Minister of Health along with the Covid-19 task team to work with Kibali to identify priorities on which to focus its contribution. Acknowledging that the remotely situated mine had been transforming the area since it began operating 10 years ago, he said that the government would work with the company on the operating challenges it faces.
Kibali has also offered the early payment of taxes, which the government has welcomed, and the company is currently discussing the details with the Ministry of Finance and the tax authorities.