Barrick Gold’s North Mara and Bulyanhulu gold mines delivered a combined production of more than 500 000 ounces in 2021, meeting a key criterion for membership of the company’s elite Tier One portfolio.The operations were moribund gold mines when Barrick took over their management two years ago. The within-guidance performance was achieved with both mines retaining their ISO 45001 safety and ISO 14001 environmental accreditations, in common with Barrick’s other operations. North Mara is on track to become a fully integrated mine with the planned commissioning of the Nyabirama pit during the current quarter and the scheduled commencement of the Nyabigena pit in the third quarter of 2022. This is expected to add substantial resources and increased flexibility to its plan. Bulyanhulu has been re-established as a world-class, low-cost, long-life underground mine as it achieved steady state production on the successful ramp-up of its mining and metallurgical operations in December 2021. Both mines are expected to report a significant growth of their mineral reserves, net of depletion, for 2021.
Increased footprintBarrick has increased its footprint around Bulyanhulu through the acquisition of six highly prospective licences bordering the mine, and its exploration teams are also looking elsewhere in Tanzania for new opportunities.
According to Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow, the mines’ performance had been supported by reinforced Covid-19 protocols and the roll-out of vaccines to its workforce, 26.45% of whom have already been partially vaccinated and 20.25% fully vaccinated. Barrick is working closely with the country’s health authorities to supply four PCR machines to hospitals around the mines.The mines also continued to recruit and upskill local people. Tanzanian nationals now account for 96% of their workforce, with 41% drawn from the surrounding villages. They are also strengthening their partnerships with local suppliers. Since Barrick re-entered Tanzania in 2019, it has spent more than $1.8 billion in taxes, salaries and payments to local businesses. It has also invested $6.7 million in community education, health and infrastructure projects. Referring to Barrick’s recently published Human Rights Report, Bristow said the environmental and other issues it had inherited from the mines’ previous operators had been or were being settled. The company’s significant progress on this front was exemplified by last month’s landmark completion of the restoration of North Mara’s tailings facility pond to within its permitted design capacity, Bristow said. The rehabilitated facility has been complemented by a new high recovery water treatment plant.