Is Barrick Gold's Veladero mine reopening soon?
In a matter of hours, officials from the Argentinian province of San Juan are set to deliver a technical report that will seal the fate of Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine.
The Provincial Secretary of Environment Eduardo Machuca and Mining Minister Alberto Hensel visited the site on Monday to confirm that repairs were made after a leak of processing solution containing cyanide earlier this month. The accident forced local authorities to issue a temporary suspension order.
In detail, the spill happened on September 8th, when a pipe carrying the solution in the heap leach area was struck by a large block of ice that had rolled down the heap leach valley slope.
According to Barrick, no solution from the damaged pipe reached any water diversion channels or watercourses and the impacted area in the leach valley was quickly remediated. Repairs included lifting a berm, or raised bank, over which the processing solution flowed.
“If all the repairs have been completed and the mining police give the OK… there will be no reason to sustain the injunction,” said the judge analyzing the case Pablo Oritja in a statement.
But this isn’t the company’s first spill in the area. Earlier this year, the Toronto-based miner was ordered to pay a $9.8 million-fine over a cyanide spill at the same mine, which happened almost exactly a year ago.
And according to Reuters, between 2011 and 2012 the world’s largest gold producer experienced three cyanide leaks at Veladero.
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.