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Bristow points to long-term future at Barrick's Loulo-Gounkoto

Barrick Gold’s new underground mine at its tier one Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali is ramping up and the operation continues to replace ore depleted by mining, CEO Mark Bristow said during a site visit on the weekend.
Bristow points to long-term future at Barrick's Loulo-Gounkoto Bristow points to long-term future at Barrick's Loulo-Gounkoto Bristow points to long-term future at Barrick's Loulo-Gounkoto Bristow points to long-term future at Barrick's Loulo-Gounkoto Bristow points to long-term future at Barrick's Loulo-Gounkoto

Underground at Barrick Gold’s Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali

Staff reporter

He said the mine was set to remain a major contributor to the Malian economy but noted in a presentation that illegal mining continued to "adversely impact the environment and our operations".

The new underground mine at Gounkoto is the third underground operation at the complex, which Bristow said was on track to meet annual production guidance.

Barrick owns 80% of Loulo-Gounkoto and expected attributable production in 2021 of 510,000-560,000 ounces of gold, or 640,000-700,000oz on a 100% basis.

It had forecast all-in sustaining costs of US$930-$980/oz.

The complex produced 680,215 ounces of gold in 2020, exceeding full-year guidance despite COVID-19 and other challenges.

Mining is a key driver of the economy in Mali, which has seen two recent military coups - in August 2020 and in May.

The government owns 20% of Loulo-Gounkoto.

Bristow was keen to point out the mine had paid $318 million to the government in taxes, royalties and dividends so far this year and invested more than $13 million in community wellbeing projects.

He said almost 40% of employees had been vaccinated against COVID-19, there had been "rigorous training" in human rights and the complex was almost entirely staffed and managed by Malian citizens.

Through successful exploration, he said it was on track to increase mineral reserves net of depletion for the third successive year and promising results from the Yalea Ridge and Gounkoto-Faraba targets reaffirmed the potential for further life-of-mine extensions.

Barrick Gold shares (TSX: ABX) are trading near a 12-month low, closing at C$22.74 on Friday to value it about $40 billion (US$32 billion).