Barrick’s proposed expansion of the Pueblo Viejo gold mine will extend its life and its significant contribution to the Dominican Republic’s economy until 2040 and beyond.
Speaking to local media, Mark Bristow, President & Chief Executive of operator Barrick Gold, said the project would require an initial investment of $1.3bn to expand the process plant and the tailings facility.
Extending its life would unlock the mine’s potential to increase exports by $22bn and generate more than $4bn in taxes at a gold price of $1,500 per ounce. Between 2013 and 2016 Pueblo Viejo paid $1.8bn in direct taxes and last year its exports accounted for more than 38% of the country’s total.
The company’s workforce (which is 97% Dominican) is expected to grow as the project develops and it will increase opportunities for female participation (currently 12% of the workforce). It will also further promote the development of the local economy based on the mine’s suppliers and contractors.
“Our aim is to continue contributing to the social and economic development of the Dominican Republic by applying our sustainability philosophy to create long-term value for all our stakeholders, especially the governments and people of our host countries. Without this project mining at Pueblo Viejo would have ceased in the next two years,” said Bristow.
The expansion will enable the mine to exploit the lower grades in the orebody and is not intended to process ore from outside the current concession area.
In the meantime, Bristow noted, the conversion of the mine’s Quisqueya 1 power plant to natural gas had successfully been commissioned. This will cut greenhouse gases by 30% and nitrogen oxide by 85%, further reducing Pueblo Viejo’s impact on the environment. An agribusiness project is also planned as an additional benefit for the communities impacted by the expansion.