Barrick hit with $10m fine over Argentina cyanide spill

A provincial Argentine court has ordered Barrick Gold Corp (TSX, NYSE:ABX) to pay a 145.7m pesos or $9.8m fine over a September cyanide spill at its Veladero mine in San Juan province.

In a a statement Barrick President Kelvin Dushnisky said following the incident that was caused by a broken valve on a pipe carrying solution with cyanide between Veladero’s leach pad and the processing plant, the Toronto-based company implemented a "comprehensive action plan to strengthen controls and safeguards at the mine while addressing the root causes of the solution release":

We recognize that we have disappointed many of our partners in San Juan province and we deeply regret this incident

"These actions include intensified water monitoring, the addition of heating controls and pressure sensing equipment to manage freezing risks, new procedures related to leach pad operations and additional water management controls."

"Water samples taken immediately following the incident, and in the months following, demonstrate that the solution release did not pose any risks to the health of communities or the environment downstream from the mine. These results are consistent with studies ordered by federal and provincial regulators and the provincial court."

"We recognize that we have disappointed many of our partners in San Juan province and we deeply regret this incident. The company is committed to ensuring we have robust polices and standards in place that protect the environment at all of our operations," added Dushnisky.

Veladero, one of the largest gold mines in Argentina, produced 602,000 ounces  last year.  Proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2015, were 7.5 million ounces of gold. Gold production in 2016 is expected to be 630,000-690,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $830-$900 per ounce according to the company's website.