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Barrick to close Lagunas Norte mine in Peru

The Lagunas Norte operation is perched on the western flank of the Peruvian Andes at an elevation of 4,000 to 4,260 meters above sea level. Photo by Barrick Gold.

Barrick Gold (NYSE: GOLD) (TSX: ABX), the world’s second largest producer of the precious metals, on Wednesday said it will place its Lagunas Norte mine in Peru on care and maintenance while the team assesses the sulphide resource potential. It is the latest announcement outlining the company’s exploration strategy in Latin America.

The Toronto-based gold miner has been trying sell the Lagunas Norte mine since 2017, but talks with potential buyers have been fruitless as the mine is nearing the end of its life with a high closure cost built into its price tag.

Following a tour of the company’s Latin American operations in January, Barrick boss Mark Bristow decided they were looking at “a new plan” for Lagunas Norte and suspended plans to sell its Peru assets. Another mine in Peru, Pierina, is also marked for closure.

Barrick had booked a $405 million impairment charge on Lagunas Norte last year, which resulted in a $431 million net loss in the September quarter. Production in 2018 totaled 245,000 ounces of gold at an all-in sustaining cost of $636/oz.