Barrick ramping up new underground mine at Loulo-Gounkoto in Mali

The company expects to achieve its 2021 guidance of 510,000 to 560,000 ounces (80% basis) at Loulo-Gounkoto.
The Mali-based Loulo-Gounkoto complex (pictured) includes Loulo underground mines, Yalea Gara and the Gounkoto open pit mine. (Image by: Randgold Resources)






Barrick Gold's (TSX: ABX) Loulo-Gounkoto gold complex in Mali is set to remain a major contributor to the African nation's economy well into the future as the company continues to replace the ore depleted by mining, according to president and CEO Mark Bristow.

The Loulo-Gounkoto complex comprises two distinct mining permits, Loulo and Gounkoto, owned 80% by Barrick, with the remaining 20% held by the Malian government.

Speaking at a media briefing over the weekend, Bristow said Loulo-Gounkoto was on track to meet its annual production guidance, with its new underground mine at Gounkoto — the complex’s third underground operation — ramping up production.

Barrick announced during Q2 2021 that Gounkoto's new underground mine has reached its first mining level and was scheduled to start delivering ore to the plant in the quarter. This would allow the gold major to meet its 2021 guidance of 510,000 to 560,000 ounces (on a 80% basis).

Prefeasibility study has also been initiated on two more mines on the Loulo permit, which would add more mining sources to support the company's 10-year plan.

"Through successful exploration, it is 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 reaffirm the potential for further life-of-mine extensions," Bristow said.

Mines operated in Mali by Barrick and its predecessor Randgold have spent some $8 billion in the country in the form of taxes, royalties, salaries and payments to local suppliers over the past 24 years.

To date this year, the company has paid $318 million to the government in taxes, royalties and dividends, and invested more than $13 million in community well-being projects ranging from health and education to economic development initiatives.

“Loulo-Gounkoto is one of the world’s greatest gold mining operations and it continues to confirm its status as a member of the industry’s elite Tier One club, as well as the largest private sector contributor to Mali’s GDP,” Bristow continued.

“In addition to the enormous value it creates for its stakeholders, Loulo-Gounkoto also aspires to a high level of social responsibility. Almost 40% of employees have been vaccinated against covid-19 and 335 people have been vaccinated in the surrounding community."

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