Barrick Gold’s (TSX: ABX) (NYSE: GOLD) Kibali mine is on track to deliver at the upper end of its 2020 guidance, chief executive Mark Bristow said in a media release Thursday.
Kibali was the first underground gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is currently one of the largest in the world. Production outlook for the mine was previously set at 340,000-370,000 gold ounces (Barrick’s 45% share) in 2020.
In the third quarter Kibali set a new ore delivery record from underground, exceeding nameplate for the first time since the shaft was commissioned in 2018.
“Automation is often associated with reduced employment but we use it as an opportunity to further upskill our workers and to reduce our need for expatriate specialists. It is worth noting that Kibali – one of Barrick’s elite corps of tier one mines – is led by a predominantly Congolese management team in line with our policy of employing and advancing host country nationals,” Bristow said.
According to the company, a tier one mine is one capable of producing at least 500,000 ounces of gold annually for at least 10 years at the lower end of the industry’s cost profile. Bristow said brownfields exploration was extending Kibali’s life by replacing reserves depleted by mining.
Barrick’s exploration teams are also hunting for the next Kibali elsewhere in the DRC, he added.
During the past quarter, battery technology was successfully integrated into the Kibali power grid to augment the mine’s three hydropower stations and offset the cyclical load of the winder. In line with Barrick’s global move to cleaner energy sources, the new technology is set to further reduce the mine’s carbon footprint and use of thermal power.
Following a meeting with President Tshisekedi earlier in the day, Bristow said they had agreed that Kibali had brought a thriving local economy to what was previously one of the most deprived regions in the DRC.