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Barrick expands Loulo-Gounkoto mine in Mali

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(Kitco News) - Barrick Gold reported today that third underground mine at the company's giant Loulo-Gounkoto gold operation in Mali has reached its first mining level and is scheduled to start delivering ore tonnes to the plant during the current quarter.

President and chief executive Mark Bristow noted that at the same time, a prefeasibility study has started on two more mines on the Loulo permit: an underground operation at Loulo 3 and a large open pit at Yalea South. These, Bristow said, would add mining sources and improve feed flexibility, providing further support for the complex's robust 10-year plan. Meanwhile exploration programs designed to replace depleted reserves are continuing to deliver good results.

The complex, which is the second biggest gold operation in Africa, produced 193,014 ounces of gold in Q1 and is on track to achieve its full-year guidance of 640,000 to 700,000 ounces. Given its strong performance and the relatively high gold price, the joint venture board paid a combined dividend for the Loulo-Gounkoto complex of $80 million in the quarter.

Covid-19 testing and care capacities were upgraded during the quarter through the acquisition of new equipment and the complex has been largely unaffected by the third wave of the pandemic.

Bristow said the complex was continuing to invest in the development of the local community.

"Loulo-Gounkoto remains a pillar of the Malian economy as well as a driver of local economic development. Over the past 24 years, Barrick and its legacy company Randgold Resources have contributed $7.7 billion to the economy, of which $3 billion went to the state in the form of dividends, taxes and royalties. Our long partnership with the country and its people is a testament to how mutually beneficial a relationship of this kind can be," concluded Bristow.

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