Barrick Gold

Barrick Gold mulls further exploration investment in Mali

Gold mining heavyweight Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) is in talks with the Mali Government to expand its exploration ground in the West African country.

CEO Mark Bristow says while the current economic and political climate in Mali caused exploration companies to curtail or suspend their operations in the country, Barrick has been engaging with the National Directorate of Geology and Mines to grow its exploration footprint.

Over the past three decades, the C$41.76 billion ($45.41 billion) market capitalised Barrick has contributed more than US$10 billion ($14.82 billion) to Mali’s economy, with over US$1 billion of that spent in the past year.  

Barrick’s mines currently account for between 5% and 10% of the country’s gross domestic product annually. 

Mali’s moves to adopt a new mining code, which allows the government and local communities to take a greater stake in mining operations, created uncertainty for exploration and mining companies active in the region.  

Bristow says the need to guarantee the long-term viability of Barrick’s Loulo-Gounkoto gold mining complex was critical to ensuring the Malian mining industry’s sustainability and maintaining its substantial contribution to the country’s economy.

“We continue to work constructively towards a global resolution of our differences and finding common ground on the key issue of sharing the economic benefits of our operations without damaging the future viability of these valuable contributors to the economy,” he says. 

“It’s worth noting that Barrick developed a highly successful benefit-sharing partnership for our Tanzanian operations which has since also been used as a model for the reopened Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea.”

The Loulo-Gounkoto complex is one of the world’s largest gold producers. Bristow said in March the operation was on track to meet its 2024 guidance of 510,000-560,000 ounces of gold production. 

In November 2022, Mali issued a moratorium on the administration of all new licences, permits, and approvals while it audited mining operations and undertook a comprehensive review of the 2019 Mining Code. 

Last week, the Council of Ministers adopted the Implementation Decree, which sets the framework for mining investment in the country and is the last step to finalising the new 2023 Mining Code.

Toubani Resources (ASX:TRE), which is advancing its Kobada Gold Project in Mali, welcomed the development saying earlier this week it is a welcome step towards a return to regulatory stability for the industry.

While the 2022 moratorium did not directly impact Toubani given the company already had the necessary permits to continue moving its Kobada Project forward, it indirectly caused a slowdown in the overall sector. 

“Toubani views this development constructively, as it provides the stability and guidelines necessary for restoring investment in the country and a reopening of the mining sector,” the company says.

Write to Angela East at Mining.com.au 

Images: Barrick Gold 
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Written By Angela East
Managing Editor Angela East is an experienced business journalist and editor with over 15 years spent covering the resources and construction sectors and more recently working as a communications specialist handling media relations for junior resources companies.