The successful two-decade partnership between the government of Mali and NYSE-listed Barrick Gold (previously Randgold) has made the gold mining industry one of the key drivers of the country’s economy, Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow said.
Briefing local media on the Loulo-Gounkoto complex’s current performance this week, Bristow said Barrick was committed to further investment in Mali.
The company is currently developing a new underground mine at Gounkoto, replenishing existing reserves through brownfields exploration, prospecting for another discovery along the Mali/Senegal shear zone and undertaking mapping and research in the south of the country.
However, Bristow cautioned that Mali’s mining industry was facing many social and fiscal challenges. “Overcoming these to ensure that the sector could sustain its contribution to the economy required closer cooperation between government and industry in a spirit of transparency and engagement.”
Bristow noted that Barrick entered Mali through Randgold’s discovery and development of Morila, which laid the foundation for its mining industry as well as marking the first true partnership between a host country and investors in West Africa.
Since then, Barrick’s operations have paid about $2.7 billion (almost CFA1.6 trillion) in taxes, royalties and dividends to the state. Its mines currently contribute more than 40% of the country’s total gold production.
In line with its commitment to creating value not only for its shareholders and the treasury but to all the other stakeholders, Barrick said it pioneered the concept of building national capacity. Today all its mines in the country are managed by all-Malian executive teams. In addition, some of the key leaders in Barrick’s Africa and Middle East region are the products of the group’s human capital development programmess in Mali.
“Barrick also contributes to the economy through its support for local businesses, to which it has paid approximately $190 million (almost CFA112 billion) so far this year alone.”
Likewise, it continues to invest in the community and all the villages around its mines now have schools, primary healthcare clinics and access to potable water. At Morila, which is nearing closure, Barrick states that it has invested significantly in an Agripole, which will provide a sustainable post-mining micro-economy for the villages around the mine. At Loulo, it has established an agricultural college which this year produced 40 farming graduates who have been deployed across 10 farms.
Turning to the operations, Bristow said in the past quarter Loulo-Gounkoto had again set production records and was on track to meet its production guidance of 690 0001 ounces of gold for 2019. Successful exploration was replacing depleted reserves, ensuring that its remaining life exceeded 10 years.
Loulo-Gounkoto is one of the world’s largest gold mining operations and one of the largest businesses in West Africa in terms of revenue, employment and taxes and dividends paid to the state.
Bristow said that progress had been made in the search for a global and amicable settlement of the tax and fiscal issues between Barrick and the government of Mali and negotiations on the settlement’s implementation were nearing finalisation.