Operations resume at Barrick’s Veladero mine
Canada’s Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX) said Tuesday that operations have resumed at its Veladero mine in the San Juan province of Argentina after local authorities gave the company the green light.
Mining at the site was suspended on Sept. 15, a week after falling ice damaged a pipe carrying process solution in the leach pad area, causing some material to leave the leach pad.
The leak, said Barrick, was quickly contained and returned to the leach pad. Water monitoring in the area has confirmed the incident did not result in any environmental impacts, the company said.
Barrick also noted it had completed a series of remedial works required by provincial authorities designed to prevent such an incident from reoccurring, including increasing the height of the perimeter berms that surround the leach pad.
Earlier this year, the Toronto-based miner was ordered to pay a 145.7m pesos or $9.8m fine over a cyanide spill at the same mine, which happened almost exactly a year ago.
When Barrick announced the fine in March, it said it had undertaken a plan to strengthen controls and safeguards at the mine, including increased water monitoring.
Veladero, one of the largest gold mines in Argentina, produced 602,000 ounces last year. Proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2015, were 7.5 million ounces of gold. Gold production in 2016 is expected to be 630,000-690,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $830-$900 per ounce according to the company’s website.
As normal operations resume, the Toronto-based firm will continue to assess the impact of the temporary suspension on Veladero’s production for 2016.
For now, the world’s largest gold miner by output continues to expect total production the year to be in the range of 5.0-5.5 million ounces at a cost of sales applicable to gold of $5.2-$5.5 billion and all-in sustaining costs of $750-$790 per ounce.