Despite impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Barrick Gold managed to achieve achieve its 2020 production targets.
The gold producer recently announced its preliminary full year and fourth quarter 2020 results. Preliminary gold production for the full year of 4.8 million ounces is at the midpoint of the 4.6 to 5.0-million-ounce guidance range, while preliminary copper production of 457 million pounds is also within the guidance range of 440 to 500 million pounds.
The preliminary Q4 results show sales for the quarter of 1.19 million ounces of gold and 108 million pounds of copper, as well as preliminary Q4 production of 1.21 million ounces of gold and 119 million pounds of copper. The average market price for gold in Q4 was $1 874 per ounce, while the average market price for copper was $3.25 per pound.
Preliminary Q4 gold production was higher than Q3 2020, mainly due to a strong performance from Pueblo Viejo, the ramp-up of mining operations at Bulyanhulu and ongoing improvement at Turquoise Ridge. Preliminary Q4 gold sales were lower than Q3 2020 as third quarter sales included the export of the remaining stockpiled concentrate in Tanzania. Q4 gold cost of sales per ounce and total cash costs per ounce are expected to be in line with the prior quarter and gold all-in sustaining costs per ounce are expected to be 3-5% lower than in Q3 2020.
Preliminary Q4 copper production was higher than Q3 2020 following completion of plant maintenance at Lumwana in the third quarter. Preliminary Q4 copper sales were lower than the previous quarter, primarily due to the timing of shipments at Lumwana. Q4 copper cost of sales per pound is expected to be 4-6% higher, Q4 copper C1 cash costs per pound are expected to be 10-12% higher and copper all-in sustaining costs per pound are expected to be 4-6% higher than Q3 2020. Driving these changes are higher operating costs at Lumwana and Zaldívar, partially offset by lower depreciation and lower sustaining capital at Lumwana.
Barrick will provide additional discussion and analysis regarding its fourth quarter production and sales when the company reports its quarterly and full year 2020 results before North American markets open on 18 February 2021.