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Barrick's gold production up 21%

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Barrick's gold production up 21%

Barrick Gold highlighted full-year gold production at the upper end of guidance, copper production above guidance, and a 40% dividend increase in its latest quarterly earnings report.

Gold production last year reached 5.47Moz, up 21% on 2018, while copper was 13% higher at 432Mlb (196,000t). The Toronto-based company reported fourth quarter earnings of US$300mn, up from US$264mn in 3Q19.

Barrick’s mineral reserves increased 14.5% in ounces at 7.7% higher grade after depletion from mining. “This was achieved through the refocus on geology as a core discipline within the business,” CEO Mark Bristow said during a web conference.

Attributable gold reserves now reach 1.3Bt grading 1.68g/t for 71Moz gold. Total attributable copper reserves are 1.6Bt grading 0.38% for 13Blbs of contained copper.

Barrick recycled over 70% of water used at mine sites. In the Dominican Republic, the miner converted the power plant at Pueblo Viejo to natural gas and linked Argentina’s Veladero with the grid.

VELADERO

Fourth quarter production of the Argentine mine was 22% higher than the prior quarter due to better ore grades and tonnages processed. Guidance for the year was 250,000oz gold but attributable production reached 274,000oz.

Capex increased to US$28mn from US$19mn in 3Q19 on the construction of the leach pad expansion. The company said Cuatro Esquinas pushback is set to start this year, extending mine life to 2027 with further potential for resource growth.

Visiting the site last year, Bristow announced a US$34mn investment for 2020.

PASCUA-LAMA

During 4Q19 the miner concluded that Pascua-Lama (pictured), on the Chilean-Argentine border, doesn’t have a plan that meets investment criteria.

This year, the company will focusing on updating the geological understanding of the Pascua-Lama orebody through drilling. 

PUEBLO-VIEJO

In the Dominican Republic, Barrick continues work on the Pueblo Viejo plant expansion to extend its life beyond 2040 at a production rate of about 800,000oz/y.

Pueblo Viejo has 9.5Moz of gold in reserves and the expansion has the potential to unlock a further 11Moz of reserves on a 100% basis.

In 4Q19, production was 29% higher due to better grade control and optimization work resulting in a record oxidized sulfur tonnes. The mine contributes over 20% to the country's annual corporate tax revenue.

FORECAST

This year, Barrick will spend US$210-230mn for exploration and evaluation works.

Expected gold production for this year is set to be 4.8-5.2Moz. “We expect gold production in the second half of 2020 to be slightly higher than the first half,” Bristow said. 

Copper production is expected to reach 440-500Mlb. 

Earlier this year, Bristow denied a possible merger with Freeport-McMoran, looking for copper assets but on Wednesday he said the Indonesian copper and gold Grasberg operation was an attractive asset. 

Photo credit: Barrick

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