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Feature image credit: Wikimedia

The Barrick Gold operated Kibali mine in the DRC produced 191,612 oz of gold in the first quarter of 2021, keeping it on plan and on track to achieve its full year target, Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow has stated.

The mine’s underground operation again drove production and continuing improvements in the plant’s throughput and recovery rates also contributed to Kibali’s on-plan delivery.

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Efficiency improvement projects completed during the quarter, including an upgrade of the hoisting infrastructure, are expected to boost its performance further.

Power generation costs benefitted during the quarter from higher river levels as the mine’s three hydropower plants supplied the bulk of its energy requirements.

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The power grid was further enhanced by the installation of a 9MW battery support system. The new system will also decrease the need for diesel-generated backup, in line with the mine’s strategy of reducing its carbon footprint.

Strict adherence to Covid-19 prevention protocols largely shielded the mine from the impact of the pandemic’s second wave.

Looking ahead, Kibali continues to replace resources and secure further open pit opportunities to balance its underground mine, and to replace reserves and add flexibility to the operation in support of its robust 10-year plan.

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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 Q1, the mine launched an innovative campaign to stimulate the Durba economy by issuing local shopping vouchers to employees.

Bristow said that Kibali continued to support the DRC’s Garamba National Park, one of the oldest in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and that there had not been a single instance of elephant poaching during 2020.

The support program 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.

“We look forward to working closely with His Excellency 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,” Bristow said. Since the development of Kibali started in 2010, it has contributed $3.5 billion to the DRC’s economy.

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On 1 January 2019 a new Barrick was born out of the merger between Barrick Gold Corporation and Randgold Resources. Shares in the new company trade on the NYSE (GOLD) and the TSX (ABX). The merger has created a sector-leading gold company which owns five of the industry’s Top 10 Tier One gold assets (Cortez and Goldstrike in Nevada, USA (100%); Kibali in DRC (45%); Loulo-Gounkoto in Mali (80%); and Pueblo Viejo in Dominican Republic (60%)) and two with the potential to become Tier One gold assets (Goldrush/Fourmile (100%) and Turquoise Ridge (75%), both in the USA). With mining operations and projects in 15 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Dominican Republic, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, USA, and Zambia, Barrick has the lowest total cash cost position among its senior gold peers and a diversified asset portfolio positioned for growth in many of the world’s most prolific gold districts.