Barrick Gold has succeeded in taking its North Mara and Bulyanhulu gold mines in Tanzania from “moribund” to Tier One assets.
North Mara and Bulyanhulu, which were moribund gold mines when Barrick took over their management two years ago, delivered a combined production of more than 500,000 ounces in 2021, meeting a key criterion for membership of the company’s elite Tier One portfolio. The within-guidance performance was achieved with both mines retaining their ISO 45001 safety and ISO 14001 environmental accreditations, in common with Barrick’s other operations.
North Mara is on track to become a fully integrated mine with the planned commissioning of the Nyabirama pit during the current quarter. Operations are scheduled to kick off in the third quarter of 2022.
Bulyanhulu has been re-established as a world-class, low-cost, long-life underground mine as it achieved steady production following the ramp-up of its mining and metallurgical operations in December 2021. Barrick expects both mines to experience significant growth of their mineral reserves, net of depletion, for 2021.
Barrick has increased its footprint around Bulyanhulu through the acquisition of six highly prospective licences bordering the mine, and its exploration teams are also looking elsewhere in Tanzania for new opportunities.
Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow says the mines’ performance had been supported by reinforced Covid-19 protocols and the roll-out of vaccines to its workforce, 26.45% of whom have already been partially vaccinated and 20.25% fully vaccinated. Barrick is working closely with the country’s health authorities to supply four PCR machines to hospitals around the mines.
The company’s significant progress on this front was exemplified by last month’s landmark completion of the restoration of North Mara’s tailings facility pond to within its permitted design capacity, Bristow said. The rehabilitated facility has been complemented by a new high recovery water treatment plant.