Amidst Mali’s political shifts, Barrick says it’ll continue to invest in Loulo-Gounkoto complex

Loulo-Gounkoto complex. (Image by Barrick Gold).

At a time when Mali is dealing with a series of political changes, including a recent shuffle in the mining portfolio, Barrick Gold’s (TSX:ABX)(NYSE:GOLD) president and chief executive Mark Bristow met with the media and said that the company will continue to invest in the future of the Loulo-Gounkoto mining complex.

“Successful exploration is more than replacing the ounces we mine as well as identifying new growth opportunities with the potential to deliver the next generation of major discoveries in the Loulo region,” Bristow said. “The new underground mine at Gounkoto — the complex’s third — has developed its first production stopes and the Yalea South cutback is ahead of plan.”

As of 2023, the complex continues to perform strongly, is on track to achieve its production guidance and is extending its solar power installation and battery storage system by 40MW. The project is already feeding 10MW into the mine’s micro-grid and it is expected that its second phase will be commissioned ahead of the current end-2024 completion date.

Barrick’s CEO pointed out that, given this state of affairs, management expects the complex to continue to be a major contributor to the Malian economy for years to come.

“The achievement of that vision will require the continued commitment to the mutually rewarding partnership which has brought us this far and delivered sustainable benefits to all stakeholders, including the country’s citizens,” he noted.

According to Bristow, the 26-year-long partnership with the state of Mali that Barrick started during its previous iteration as Rangold, has built the country’s gold mining industry into a world leader, with Loulo-Gounkoto becoming one of the world’s top 10 gold producers.

“Together with the Morila mine, the complex has contributed $9.3 billion to the Malian economy and accounted for between 5% and 10% of the country’s GDP over the past 10 years,” the executive said. “Loulo-Gounkoto is one of Mali’s largest taxpayers and employers, with a workforce of some 7,000, 97% of whom are Malian nationals. Over the life of the complex, the state has received more than 70% of the economic benefits it created.”

Barrick’s president also pointed out that Malian suppliers accounted for 74% of the complex’s purchases, amounting to $298 million, during the first half of this year.