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Barrick Gold provides Loulo-Gounkoto update

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Global Mining Review,

Barrick Gold Corp.’s Loulo-Gounkoto mine complex in Mali delivered production of 680 215 oz of gold in 2020, exceeding its full year guidance despite COVID-19 and other challenges.

At the same time, it improved its safety performance, reducing its lost time injury (LTI) frequency rate by more than half compared to 2019 and achieving a LTI free year in its underground operations. The complex retained its ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 health, safety and environmental certifications.

The underground operations have reached a world-class level of automation, hard on the heels of pace-setter Kibali. The two existing underground mines, Yalea and Gara, will shortly be joined by a third when Gounkoto underground delivers its first ore tonnes planned for 2Q21.

In another major technological advance, Loulo commissioned Barrick’s first solar power plant in the Africa and Middle East region, delivering 20M W of capacity into the microgrid. Projects scheduled for completion in 2021 include the commissioning of a water treatment plant, an expansion of power generating capacity and a powerline upgrade to support the new Gounkoto underground mine.

The complex continued to support and develop local businesses, spending more than US$375 million with local contractors and suppliers in 2020. Its accelerator programme, designed to equip budding businessmen and women with commercial skills, established 48 entrepreneurs and granted them credit totalling about US$390 000. Loulo-Gounkoto’s local content programme was further improved by the formation of a transport consortium which incorporates most of its existing Malian transport providers.

In a presentation to local media and stakeholders at Loulo, Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, said that thanks to continuing successful exploration, the complex’s gold reserves were now larger than they had been 15 years ago, and indications were that it would once more have replaced ounces depleted by mining in 2020.

“The Loulo district lies at the heart of one of the world’s most prolific gold regions. Over the past 15 years, this has delivered more world-class discoveries than any other, and our extensive exploration programmes are designed not only to replenish our reserves but to find our next Tier One mine,” he said.

Loulo and Gounkoto paid and declared combined dividends of US$240 million for 2020. Over the past almost 24 years, Barrick and its legacy company Randgold Resources contributed US$7.7 billion to Mali’s economy in the form of taxes, royalties, salaries and payments to local suppliers. Its annual contribution amounts to between 5% and 10% of the country’s GDP.

Mali's minister of mines, Lamine Seydou Traore, and a delegation from his department attended Bristow's presentation and toured the operation with the Barrick team.

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