The Barrick Gold operated Kibali mine in the DRC produced 191,612 ounces of gold1 in the first quarter of 2021, keeping it on plan and on track to achieve its full year target. The mine’s underground operation again drove production and continuing improvements in the plant’s throughput and recovery rates also contributed to Kibali’s on-plan delivery. Efficiency improvement projects completed during the quarter, including an upgrade of the hoisting infrastructure, are expected to boost its performance further.
Power generation costs benefitted during the quarter from higher river levels as the mine’s three hydropower plants supplied the bulk of its energy requirements. The power grid was further enhanced by the installation of a 9MW battery support system. The new system will also decrease the need for diesel-generated backup, in line with the mine’s strategy of reducing its carbon footprint.
Strict adherence to Covid-19 prevention protocols largely shielded the mine from the impact of the pandemic’s second wave. Looking ahead, Kibali continues to replace resources and secure further open pit opportunities to balance its underground mine, and to replace reserves and add flexibility to the operation in support of its robust 10-year plan.
Read: Underground and Open-pit Operations Commence at Geita Gold Mine in Tanzania
Investment in community development
Kibali maintained its investment in community development, among other things by advancing the Kibali-built Durba concrete road by 1.5km. The provision of additional potable water sources to the surrounding villages was also extended. During Q1, the mine launched an innovative campaign to stimulate the Durba economy by issuing local shopping vouchers to employees.
According to Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow, Kibali continued to support the DRC’s Garamba National Park, one of the oldest in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and that there had not been a single instance of elephant poaching during 2020. The support program includes tracking collars for elephants, fuel for tracker aircraft and infrastructural improvements. A plan to reintroduce white rhino and giant eland to the park is the next big undertaking.
“We look forward to working closely with His Excellency President Felix Tshisekedi and his new coalition government in further strengthening our partnership with the DRC and to resolve certain outstanding issues around the mining code and the repatriation of cash,” Bristow said. Since the development of Kibali started in 2010, it has contributed US $3.5bn to the DRC’s economy.