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Barrick: Plan extends life of 'revitalized' Veladero gold mine

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(Kitco News) - Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: GOLD; TSX: ABX) says the expected life of the “revitalized” Veladero gold mine has been extended to at least 10 years after a review of the strategic and business plan.

Veladero, located in Argentina, is a joint venture between Barrick and Shandong Gold.

Mark Bristow, president and chief executive officer of Barrick, provided an update on the mine to Argentinians Monday, using a video conference in order to comply with Argentinian travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 virus.

“Our review included the reinterpretation of the mine’s geology and an ongoing infill drilling campaign,” Bristow said. “We established exploration and resource-management teams to identify satellite ore bodies with the potential to deliver an increase in resources and reserves. Our aim is to extend Veladero’s life of mine beyond 2030 and elevate it to a tier-one asset.”

Barrick defines a tier-one mines as those producing more than 500,000 ounces of gold annually with a life of at least 10 years. Veladero produced 548,000 ounces in 2019, and guidance for 2020 is for 480,000 to 540,000 ounces.

As part of the transformation, the company is aiming to connect the mine to cleaner, cheaper power from neighboring Chile, officials said. This could potentially reduce its cut-off grade, meaning a possible increase reserves that can be mined, the company said. The number of employees and contractors has risen by 1,400 to nearly 5,000 since January 2019, Barrick said.

“Argentina has the potential to rebuild its economy for its people, and Veladero can make a significant contribution to that process,” Bristow said.

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