Barrick converting Pueblo Viejo power plant

The heavy fuel oil power plant at Barrick Gold’s Pueblo Viejo complex in the Dominican Republic will soon be converted to natural gas as part of the miner’s effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions over the mine’s life, as well as reduce costs and support its expansion work
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The Pueblo Viejo power plant is being converted to natural gas

Staff reporter

The operator of the gold mine, Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation (PVDC), has inked a 10-year supply contract with local firm AES Andres DR for the natural gas that will feed Pueblo Viejo's Quisqueya I facility.

Barrick noted that the conversion will reduce the mine's average cost of sales and all-in-sustaining costs by about US$54 per ounce for the mine's life. That result will be realised in part by the company's ability to sell excess power back to the national energy grid.

The miner, who is a 60% owner in PVDC with 40% partner Goldcorp, said the cost savings have been taken into account on its most recent cost guidance for 2019-2022. In all, PVDC will invest $7.5 million in the conversion, and AES will construct a pipeline to the facility.

Commercial gas production is expected to begin in the second half of 2019.

"Pueblo Viejo is already a core asset with industry-leading margins and a strong track record of operational excellence," operational and technical excellence senior vice-president Greg Walker said.

"Converting the mine's power plant to natural gas is expected to reduce Pueblo Viejo's cost structure and drive incremental improvements in cash flow over the life of the mine, driving additional long-term value for our owners, as well as our government and community partners."

Barrick has projected the greenhouse gas emissions savings, once the project is complete. could reach 260,000 CO2 equivalent tonnes every year. It is all part of a bigger strategy of optimisation for the complex, Barrick noted.

"Barrick is currently advancing prefeasibility-level studies for a plant expansion at the Pueblo Viejo mine that has the potential to significantly increase throughput at the operation," officials said. "Conversion of the power plant to natural gas is anticipated to further strengthen the economics of the project."