Article published by Crown Publications
Barrick Gold Corporation’s Tanzanian mines, North Mara and Bulyanhulu, are both set to meet their 2021 production targets as well as to replace depleted reserves through brownfields exploration, president and chief executive Mark Bristow has said.
Underground at Bulyanhulu.
Speaking at the mine to local media, Bristow said the production ramp-up at Bulyanhulu is gaining momentum with plant performance ahead of expectations and recoveries at a consistent rate of 93%. An 11% increase in tonnage was driven partly by an investment in three new fully automated loaders and three additional drills. Successful conversion and optimisation of mineral resources in the upper portion of Deep West has been completed and is expected to add significant mineral reserves to the asset base, unlocking further value in the mine plan. In line with its long-term commitment to Tanzania, Barrick has also secured exploration targets elsewhere within Bulyanhulu’s mining licence.
Still at Bulyanhulu, a world-class analytical photon assay laboratory – the first of its kind in Africa and in Barrick’s global operations – has been commissioned. This new technique delivers faster, safer and more accurate analysis of gold, silver and complementary elements. This system provides an environmentally friendly, chemical-free, more sustainable replacement for traditional fire assay methods, significantly reducing CO₂ emissions and hazardous waste. A new crusher has also been commissioned and is being optimised to support increasing production.
At North Mara the commissioning of a brine treatment plant is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year as part of Barrick’s successful drive to eliminate the mine’s historical environmental issues. This has also included a new water treatment plant and an upgraded tailings facility. During the past quarter the mine’s Gokona underground operation was connected to the national power grid, which will cut its diesel consumption by 43%. North Mara’s two open pits have been redesigned and integrated with the underground mine.
Bristow said Barrick is continuing to improve the quality of life in the villages around North Mara, in partnership with the mine’s community development committee. Key projects include construction of a tarmac road, classrooms, paediatric wards and laboratories, and support for agribusiness.
“Since Barrick launched a business development programme in Tanzania, we have continued to empower the participating enterprises, unlocking more opportunities to expand our mines’ local content spend which has increased from 26% of their total expenditure in the first quarter of this year to 40% in the second. In the year to date, Barrick has invested 73% of its total spend with Tanzanian companies, 44% of which went to local businesses,” Bristow said.
“It’s also worth noting that thanks to our policy of employing and upskilling host country nationals, 97% of our workforce here are Tanzanians, 40% of whom were hired from the mines’ surrounding communities. Recently, for example, Bulyanhulu recruited 19 mining and process plant trainees through their village councils.”
In partnership with the Tanzanian health authorities, Barrick is ensuring the continued roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines. So far, 12% of its workforce in the country have been vaccinated.
Since Barrick formed its pioneering partnership with the government through the Twiga partnership in 2020, it has paid US$118-million in salaries, US$496-million in taxes, levies and royalties and US$609-million for locally sourced goods and services. It has also paid a maiden cash dividend of US$250-million.