Barrick grows its reserve base for third successive year

9th February 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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NYSE- and TSX-listed Barrick Gold has reported growth in attributable proven and probable gold mineral reserves by five-million ounces before 2023 depletion, while also striving to maintain the quality of the mineral reserve base.

As such, the company’s attributable proven and probable mineral reserves now stand at 77-million ounces at 1.65 g/t, compared with 76-million ounces at 1.67 g/t in 2022.

Led by the Africa and Middle East region, Barrick has managed to achieve a third consecutive year of organic gold reserve growth above yearly depletion.

The company’s focus on driving geographical asset quality has allowed for the replacement of more than 140% of the company’s gold reserve depletion since the end of 2019, adding almost 29-million ounces of attributable proven and probable reserves or 44-million ounces of proven and probable reserves on a 100% basis, excluding acquisitions and divestments.

Barrick says successful drilling programmes at Lumwana, in Zambia, have driven the growth of proven and probable copper reserves by 330 000 t of copper in 2023, allowing the company to replace 124% of yearly global copper depletion at a consistent quality, effectively maintaining attributable proven and probable copper mineral reserves of 5.6-million tonnes at 0.39% in 2023.

Attributable measured and indicated gold resources for last year currently stand at 180-million ounces at 16 g/t, with a further 39-million ounces at 0.8 g/t of inferred resources. Attributable measured and indicated copper resources for 2023 stand at 21-million tonnes of copper at 0.39%, with a further 7.1-million tonnes of copper at 0.4% of inferred resources.

The company’s mineral resources are reported inclusive of reserves and are based on a gold price of $1 700/oz and an updated copper price of $4/lb for last year.

Barrick president and CE Mark Bristow says the company’s strategy of investing in organic growth through exploration and mineral resource management has created real value through discovery and development, rather than relying on increases in commodity prices to provide value to high-premium mergers and acquisitions.

“For our industry to help build a better world, we have to invest in our own future by creating value through exploration, leveraging our capital infrastructure base by replacing the ounces that we mine, which in turn enables us to provide multigenerational investment in our communities, developing local service provider partnerships and investing in improving our operating environments,” he says.

Barrick mineral resource management and evaluation executive Simon Bottoms adds that the company's reserves, at a price of $1 300/oz for gold and $3/lb for copper, demonstrate the quality differentiation of the company’s assets.

“Barrick’s core focus on geologically driven asset management not only underpins the company’s reserve replacement record, but is also key in unlocking the embedded organic growth portfolio to increase the production profile to approximately 6.5-million gold-equivalent ounces a year by the end of this decade, as both the Reko Diq [project, in Pakistan,] and the Lumwana super pit expansion project are on track to complete their respective feasibility studies by the end of 2024,” he says.

The Africa and Middle East region replaced 165% of the regional 2023 gold reserve depletion, led by Loulo-Gounkoto, in Mali, with extensions of the high-grade Yalea orebody, delivering a 1.1-million-ounce increase in attributable proven and probable reserves before depletion.

Bulyanhulu, in Tanzania, also delivered strong results through the extension of Reef 1 and Reef 2 near-surface mineralisation, with updated feasibility studies supporting an additional surface decline access portal for each reef, adding 900 000 oz to attributable proven and probable reserves.

At Kibali, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ongoing conversion drilling in the 11 000 lode in KCD underground combined with the conversion of some satellite pit resources delivered a 470 000 oz increase in attributable proven and probable reserves before depletion.

The Lumwana copper mineral reserve base also grew by 6% year-on-year, net of depletion, as a result of ongoing conversion drilling in the Malundwe pit. This also resulted in the updated 2023 measured and indicated copper resources for Lumwana, which stand at 7.1-million tonnes of copper at 0.52%, with a further four-million tonnes of copper at 0.4% of inferred resources, which are expected to provide the foundation for a tier one copper asset with the completion of the super pit expansion feasibility study this year.

Within the Latin America and Asia Pacific region, a prefeasibility study (PFS) was completed on the expansion of the leach pad supporting an additional pushback in the openpit at Veladero, in Argentina, resulting in 2023 attributable proven and probable gold reserves for the region of 27-million ounces at 0.96 g/t.

Updates to the Reko Diq mineral resources reflect ongoing feasibility study updates, resulting in an attributable measured and indicated mineral resource of 8.3-million tonnes of copper at 0.43% with 14-million ounces of gold at 0.25 g/t, and an attributable inferred mineral resource of 2.2-million tonnes of copper at 0.3% with 3.8-million ounces of gold at 0.2 g/t.

In North America, ongoing growth programmes at Turquoise Ridge, Leeville Underground in Carlin, and Robertson in Cortez, added 1.9-million ounces of gold on an attributable basis before yearly depletion, effectively replacing more than 80% of yearly depletion.

This resulted in sustaining attributable proven and probable mineral reserves for the region of 31-million ounces at 2.45 g/t for 2023. Simultaneously, attributable gold measured and indicated mineral resources for the region stand at 68-million ounces at 2.10 g/t, while updated inferred attributable gold resources grew to 18-million ounces at 2.1 g/t.

Looking ahead for the year, Barrick says the regional mineral resource base is forecast to be a key driver of future growth.

As part of this, a comprehensive evaluation programme and dedicated study team will evaluate the strike length of the 100%-owned Fourmile deposit, targeting an update to mineral resources at the end of the year, which will inform Barrick’s decision on the start of a PFS.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online





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