Speaking to local media and businessmen, Barrick president and CEO Mark Bristow said the US$1.3 billion expansion project would expand the process plant and the tailings facility and enable the mine to exploit lower grade ore. No details were given of the size of the proposed expansion.
"Without this project, mining at Pueblo Viejo would have ceased in the next two years," he said.
Ore grades are projected to fall to under 1.5g/t during this decade and then closer to 1g/t in the 2030s. At the end of 2019, the mine had proven and probable reserves of 71Mt grading 2.49g/t for 5.7Moz.
Pueblo Viejo, which started production in August 2012, produced 590,000 ounces in 2019 at an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of US$592/oz. Production guidance for 2020 is 530,000-580,000oz at an AISC of $720-770. The mine produced more than 1Moz/y in its early years.
The Pueblo Viejo mine has already seen investment of $5.2 billion, about 20% of the total foreign direct investment in the Dominican Republic over the past 10 years.
In 2019, it converted the mine's Quisqueya 1 power plant to natural gas has been commissioned and will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and nitrogen oxide by 85%.
Pueblo Viejo is a joint venture between Barrick (60%) and Newmont (40%).