ARGENTINA Toronto-based BARRICK GOLD announced on Sept. 15, that its Veladero mine in San Juan province poured its first gold earlier than previously forecast. At present Barrick is working on the last details in order to officially open the mine on Oct. 11. (CMJ will carry coverage of the official opening in an upcomining issue).
Gold production for 2005 is expected to be 50,000 to 55,000 oz, and will average approximately 700,000 oz per year over the first three full years of operation. The current mining plan will keep Veladero producing gold until at least 2021. The project’s costs are expected to be in line with the company’s estimate of US$540 million.
“We are very excited about this event as Veladero will be a significant contributor to Barrack’s growing production profile,” said Greg Wilkins, president & CEO. “With this project in production this year and a fourth expected to come on-stream in the first quarter of 2006, Barrick has demonstrated that development expertise is a core competency of the company.”
At its first stage, Veladero will create 3,000 direct jobs, 70% of which are for people from San Juan; another 70 positions will be created during the production stage.
Veladero project received environmental impact study (EIS) approval in November 2003 from the Mining Authority of San Juan province. It is an open pit mine, with the gold and silver from the two pits (Filo Federico and Amable) going to a valley-fill heap leach operation and a two-stage crushing process.