Having recently received the go-ahead for its Reko Diq project in Pakistan, Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX) is now targeting 2028 for first production from the giant copper-gold mine.
On Monday, Barrick CEO Mark Bristow informed respective Pakistani authorities that following the completion of the legal processes and definitive transaction agreements last month, the company now plans to finish the Reko Diq feasibility study update by the end of 2024 and aims for first production by 2028.
Should all go to plan, Reko Diq will be the first copper-gold mine in the country’s Balochistan province.
Bristow, accompanied by senior Barrick executives, had met with Balochistan chief minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and other provincial leaders to brief them on the extensive social and economic development opportunities that would be generated by the mine, which is projected to have a life of at least 40 years.
The meeting, according to Barrick, was attended by a wide spectrum of provincial stakeholders and leaders, including opposition leader Malik Sikandar Khan and leaders of the Balochistan Awami Party, Jamiat Ullema Islam, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Awami National Party.
After the meeting, Bristow and Khan signed a memorandum of agreement which specifies the timetable for the disbursement of committed funds to the province. The agreement provides for an initial payment of $3 million this month and includes advance royalties and social development funds, ensuring that the people of Balochistan start earning benefits from the project well before the mine goes into production.
In December 2022, Barrick announced plans to invest $10 billion as part of its intent to go ahead with the construction of Reko Diq following approval from Pakistan’s top court. The project has been over a decade in the making and is said to boast world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits.
The gold miner owns 50% of Reko Diq, with the rest divided as follows: 25% by three federal state-owned enterprises, 15% by the Province of Balochistan on a fully funded basis, and 10% by the Province of Balochistan on a free-carried basis.
Reko Diq is expected to have a life of at least 40 years as a truck-and-shovel open pit operation with processing facilities capable of producing high-quality copper-gold concentrates in the amount of 80 million tonnes annually.