El Nino halts production at Barrick's PNG mine

Barrick Gold (TSE:ABX) announced on Monday that it's shutting down production at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea due to drought in the region brought about by the El-Nino weather effect.

Output at the mine which was expected to produce between 400,000 – 500,000 ounces of gold this year, had been halted due to low levels of water in the main reservoir.

Barrick, the world's top producer of the precious metal, sold 50% of its subsidiary that manages Porgera to China’s Zijin Mining Group Co in a $298 million cash deal in May this year.

The Toronto-based company has been on an aggressive cost-cutting and divestment drive and gold production was expected to fall to between 6.1m – 6.4m ounces this year, even before the Porgera announcement.

Reuters reports the privately held Ok Tedi copper mine in the country was also forced to shut due to low rainfall.

US-based Freeport-McMoRan warned in September that El Nino is disrupting operations at its Grasberg mine in Indonesia leading to reduced concentrate production at the massive gold and copper mine.