Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX; NYSE:GOLD), the world’s second-largest bullion miner, said a third underground mine at the company’s giant Loulo-Gounkoto gold complex in Mali has reached its first mining level and is scheduled to start delivering tonnes to the plant during the current quarter.
The Toronto-based company has also started a prefeasibility study on two more mines on the Loulo permit — an underground operation at Loulo 3 and a large open pit at Yalea South.
President and CEO Mark Bristow said the study aims to add mining sources and improve feed flexibility, providing further support for the complex’s robust 10-year plan.
Exploration programs designed to replace depleted reserves are continuing to deliver good results, Bristow said in a news release.
The complex produced 193,014 ounces of gold in the first quarter of the year and is on track to achieve its full-year guidance of 640,000 to 700,000 ounces. Given its strong performance and the relatively high gold price, the joint venture board paid a combined dividend for the Loulo-Gounkoto complex of US$80 million in the quarter.
Barrick said the asset remains a pillar of the Malian economy as well as a driver of local economic development. Over the past 24 years, Barrick and its legacy company, Randgold Resources, have contributed US$7.7 billion to the economy, of which US$3 billion went to the state in the form of dividends, taxes and royalties, Bristow said.