Barrick to hike gold output as Newmont gets too close to being world’s top producer

Sunrise at Turquoise Ridge. Barrick is the operator and 75% owner of the mine and Newmont owns the remaining 25%. (Image via Shelby Cadwell | LinkedIn)

Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX), the world’s top bullion producer by volume, is stepping up efforts to hike output of the yellow metal by advancing a number of projects expected to add more than one million ounces a year starting in 2021.

The Toronto-based company, which is now only 50,000 ounces — or about 125 gold bars — ahead of rival Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) in terms of annual production, said Cortez Deep South, Goldrush and Turquoise Ridge projects have been approved, while work on extending the life of its Lagunas Norte Mine in Peru is under way.

Miner is advancing four projects that could add more than 1 million ounces to annual output starting in 2021.

Barrick said is investing between $300 and $325 million to build a third shaft at its 75%-owned Turquoise Ridge in Nevada, which qualified as a “core” mine.

When combined with additional processing capacity, the project should roughly double the mine’s annual output to more than 500,000 ounces per year at average all-in sustaining costs of around $630 per ounce, Barrick said. Initial production from the new shaft is expected to begin in 2022.

The company is also advancing an underground mine at Goldrush in Nevada, where it expects to begin construction and initial production between 2021 and 2022.

In the same state, the gold giant plans to expand mining at Cortez Seep South below currently permitted levels of the Cortez Hills underground mine. It said it expected a decision by the government in the second half of 2019.

Colorado-based Newmont, which has already leapt ahead of Barrick in terms of market value, said Thursday it expects to produce between 4.9 million and 5.4 million ounces of gold this year and between 4.6 million and 5.1 million ounces annually through 2022.

In contrast, Barrick axed its 2018 forecast to between 4.5 million and 5 million ounces of gold, while targeting 4.2 million to 4.6 million ounces of annual production from 2019 to 2022.