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Barrick Gold : In Congo, Barrick sees gold reserves extending Kibali mine to 2040

10/13/2021 | 10:54am EDT
A miner measures the depth of blast holes at the Kibali gold mine Haut-Uele province

KIBALI GOLD MINE, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Canada's Barrick Gold Corp has discovered geological extensions at its Kibali gold mining joint venture in Democratic Republic of Congo that will prolong the life of the mine to 2040, Chief Executive Mark Bristow said in an interview.

The mine in the country's northeast is on track to produce gold at the top end of forecasts for the year, and geologists have found mineral reserves exceeding those depleted annually, Bristow said.

"We are starting to see geological extensions that will take us (another) 15 years, that takes us to 2040."

A new Central Bank governor and legislature broadly supportive of President Felix Tshisekedi should aid the release of $500 million cash left over after Kibali repatriated 60% of its revenue and paid in-country expenses, he said.

Under Congo's 2018 mining code, miners must return 60% of revenue from mineral sales to the country to fund economic development.

Kibali has received special approval to pay dividends from the cash, he said, without giving details. When the money is released, it can pay further dividends and begin to pay down its debt, which is accumulating interest at 8% annually, he added.

"We've already paid some of the money out in dividends but we want a whole package."

"We'll fix it in March legislation next year, but in the meantime we want to get it out," he said, without specifying which new law.

Barrick declined to comment.

Kibali, 45%-owned by Barrick, 45% by AngloGold Ashanti and 10% by state-owned gold company SOKIMO, aims to double its 10MW battery bank to help boost power from its three hydroelectric dams and reduce reliance on its diesel thermal power station during the dry season.

"We get better bang for our buck by introducing more batteries at this stage, than expanding the baseload," Bristow said.

The company is working with the government to create an "exclusion zone" on its concession where artisanal mining would be authorised, and will help identify gold deposits for mining by local communities, he said.

"They mine little veins of gold that we would never mine; it's high grade, it's easily recoverable," he said. "We're prepared to put capital in there, but then we want it to be licensed and shepherded."

Subsistence gold mining is widespread around Kibali, with some miners working inside the protected Garamba National Park. Non-governmental organisations have called for more support from industrial miners to formalise artisanal mining.

Bristow, who wants to add more copper assets to Barrick's portfolio, also said he was looking at opportunities in Congo's copperbelt in the south.

"I have said we will invest in copper opportunities where we have competitive advantage over traditional copper miners and my view is that in DRC we have that," he said.

(Reporting by Hereward Holland; Additional reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Richard Chang)

By Hereward Holland

© Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
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ANGLOGOLD ASHANTI LIMITED 2.35% 276.93 End-of-day quote.-19.15%
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Financials (USD)
Sales 2021 12 136 M - -
Net income 2021 2 063 M - -
Net cash 2021 481 M - -
P/E ratio 2021 17,0x
Yield 2021 4,02%
Capitalization 34 507 M 34 542 M -
EV / Sales 2021 2,80x
EV / Sales 2022 2,57x
Nbr of Employees 17 500
Free-Float 99,4%
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Last Close Price 19,39 $
Average target price 28,70 $
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Dennis Mark Bristow President, CEO & Non-Independent Director
Graham Patrick Shuttleworth Chief Financial Officer & Senior Executive VP
John Lawson Thornton Non-Independent Executive Chairman
Gustavo A. Cisneros Independent Director
Joseph Brett Harvey Lead Independent Director
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