The new underground mine at Barrick Gold's 80% owned Loulo-Gounkoto gold complex in Mali is ramping up, and exploration continues to extend the complex's life.
Mark Bristow, president and chief executive of Barrick Gold, stated at a media briefing that the Loulo-Gounkoto gold complex is on track to meet its annual production guidance. In addition, the new underground mine at Gounkoto, which is the complex's third underground operation, is ramping up production.
In addition, the company's exploration programme at the complex is on course to increase mineral reserves net of depletion for the third year in a row. There have been promising results from the Yalea Ridge and Gounkoto-Faraba targets, which Barrick said reaffirm the potential for further extensions to the life-of-mine (LOM). Bristow said in April that Barrick is assessing the potential to enlarge Loulo-Gounkoto.
According to Bristow, Loulo-Gounkoto will remain a major long-term contributor to the economy of Mali as it maintains the replacement of ore depleted by mining.
Mines operated over the past 24 years in Mali by Barrick and its predecessor Randgold, which was merged with Barrick in 2018, have contributed approximately US$8 billion to the country through taxes, royalties and salaries and by engaging local suppliers and contractors. The government owns 20% of Loulo-Gounkoto.
So far in 2021, Barrick has paid US$318 million to the government of Mali in taxes, royalties and dividends. It has also invested over US$13 million in community wellbeing projects ranging from health and education to economic development initiatives, including its Business Accelerator programme which is designed to equip budding entrepreneurs with management skills.
Loulo-Gounkoto is maintaining its commitment to Barrick's global policy of employing and advancing host country nationals at its sites. Staff and managers at the complex are almost entirely Malian citizens, and the company has undertaken successful training of people from the nearby Kenieba village to operate key equipment at the new Gounkoto underground mine.
Bristow commented: "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.
"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. Security staff and other employees who come into contact with the community have undergone rigorous training in human rights. Work is also under way to secure the new certification standardised by the International Cyanide Management Institute."