|Barrick Targets Gold Output From Pueblo Viejo This Year, Pascua-Lama In 2013
16 February 2012, 11:59 a.m.
(Kitco News) -Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE:ABX) (TSX:ABX) remains on track to open two new gold mines this year and next, the company’s chief executive said Thursday.
Barrick is developing two projects that it considers world class—Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic and Pascua-Lama on the border of Chile and Argentina.
“PV will be producing in the middle of this year and Pascua-Lama in the middle of next year,” said Aaron Regent, president and chief executive officer, in a conference call with analysts and investors in conjunction with the release of fourth-quarter and full-year 2011 earnings results.
When up and running, the two mines are expected to collectively provide around 1.5 million ounces in annual output, Regent said. Barrick’s earnings release said the company produced 7.68 million ounces in 2011 and targets production of approximately 9 million ounces by 2016, driven largely by Pueblo Viejo and Pascua-Lama.
“Pueblo Viejo is going well and continues to track within our budget and schedule,” Regent said. “Overall construction is currently about 90% complete.”
The company has a 60% stake, with Goldcorp owning the remaining interest. Barrick’s earnings statement said once the mine ramps up to full production in 2013, its share for the first five full years of operation is expected to average 625,000 to 675,000 ounces. For 2012, Pueblo Viejo is expected to contribute approximately 100,000 to 125,000 ounces to Barrick at total cash costs of $400 to $500 per ounce.
“We anticipate a 12- to 18-month ramp-up period,” Regent said. “So clearly, we’ll have a much bigger contribution in 2013.
“The mine is well prepared. We have about 13 million tons of ore, which represents about 1.4 million contained ounces that has been stockpiled to date.”
Meanwhile, Regent estimated that 55% of the capital for Pascua-Lama has been committed, with first production anticipated around the middle of 2013. The mine is expected to produce on average 800,000 to 850,000 ounces in its first five years at a negative cash cost of $225 to $275 an ounce, based on byproduct silver sales at $25 an ounce.
The project has been a challenge, Regent said, impacted by labor and commodity-cost pressures in Argentina, as well as competition for skilled labor in the region.
Meanwhile, Barrick also looks for copper output to begin this year at its Jabal Sayid project in Saudi Arabia.
Construction of the Jabal Sayid mine was around 75% finished as of the end of the fourth quarter, Regent said. “There are some final approvals we need, but we are expecting we will have those in hand and our first production will be in the second half of this year.”
Jabal Sayid is expected to produce 35 million to 45 million pounds of copper in 2012 at total cash costs of $2.15 to $2.50 per pound, Regent said. “As production ramps up, those cash costs will come down accordingly,” the CEO said. Average annual production from Lodes 2 and 4 is expected to be 100 million to 130 million pounds over the first full five years of operation at total cash costs of $1.50 to $1.70 per pound.
By Allen Sykora of Kitco News; firstname.lastname@example.org