Barrick Gold walks away from Guyana joint venture project

Shares in Australian gold explorer Alicanto Minerals (ASX:AQI) took a major hit on Tuesday after the company revealed that partner Barrick Gold had pulled out of their Arakaka gold venture project in Guyana.

Alicanto, which will retain 100% of the project, said it would now look to capitalize on the Barrick-funded work, taking the opportunity to focus on higher-grade targets not tested during the earn-in period.

The Canadian gold giant had spent $7.1 million on exploration at Arakaka, just shy of the $8 million it was required to invest to earn 65% under a March 2016 earn-in agreement. Its work identified multiple targets, including a number of higher grade prospects that sat outside Barrick's size criteria, Alicanto said.

Shares in Alicanto fell as much as 25% on the news, closing at only 5.8 Australian cents on Tuesday, down from 7.6 cents.

Previous explorers at Arakaka, including Newmont Mining, have spent more than $20 million on the project.

Alicanto also owns the Ianna gold project, 25km south-east of Arakaka.