Barrick Gold has announced that Tongon mine has produced a total of 284,863 ounces of gold in 2020, at the top end of its guidance for the year, driven by strong plant throughput with runtime setting a record of 95.2% in October.
In 2019, Barrick Gold had planned to sell the Tongon mine, located north of the Ivory Coast’s port city of Abidjan, with Bank of Nova Scotia getting the company’s nod to identify buyers, according to Bloomberg. The planned deal was dead on arrival. The improved throughput in 2020 surpassed the 2019 projection put at 250,000 ounces to 270,000 ounces.
Since its merge with Randgold Resources, Barrick Gold has “delivered a strong, expectation-exceeding performance, thus making significant progress in its ambition to become the world’s most valued gold company.
Tongon mine is said to have about two-and-a-half years of life left “but remains a strong cash producer and we continue to look for additional resources that could extend its life of mine”.
Tongon mine was built and commissioned in the midst of a civil war, and has since operated in a very unstable socio-political environment. Barrick Gold’s activity has been impacted by a broad range of problems, including a mill fire, recurring technical issues and an erratic grid power supply.
Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow says Tongon had to overcome enormous obstacles to achieve this exceptional performance in 2020.
“Despite all these challenges, Tongon has been consistently profitable and in 2020 again paid a $150 million dividend to its shareholders. It provided $1.2 million to the government to support its campaign against Covid-19 while implementing effective prevention measures at the mine to protect its people and the business.
“And it maintained its commitment to its host community with the installation and start-up of a number of income-generating projects.”
He noted that Tongon had the best safety record in the worldwide Barrick group. Until it suffered one Lost-Time Injury on 28 October 2020, the mine had recorded more than 15 million lost-time injury free work hours over 1,120 days.
There were no Class 1 or 2 environmental incidents2 during the year and the mine retained its ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 certifications.
Continued exploration and the conversion of resources to reserves have extended the life of the mine to 2023 and further opportunities for replacing reserves are being pursued.
In line with Barrick’s policy of supporting local business, Tongon spent $105 million – 66% of its total procurement budget – with Ivorian contractors and suppliers in 2020.
Since Tongon poured its first gold in 2010, it has paid more than $1.6 billion into the Ivorian economy in the form of taxes, infrastructure development, salaries and payments to local suppliers.
While much has been achieved, Mark Bristow thinks “much remains to be done,”:
“We stand on the strong foundation of our enormous organic growth potential, which will support a positive production profile and a very robust business, capable of generating a substantial cash flow for at least the next decade. There are also opportunities for growth outside our current ambit which we continue to explore. All in all, I am confident that we are more than capable of delivering on our promise: to build the world’s most valued gold company”.