The Bulyanhulu mine (above) recommences processing of underground ore during the fourth quarter. (Photo: Barrick)

The North Mara and Bulyanhulu gold mines in Tanzania produced near the top end of their production guidance in 2020, their first full year under Barrick Gold’s management. Including Buzwagi, the Tanzanian assets delivered a combined output of 462,472 ounces (oz) for the year. The company said the mines have been successfully revived, with North Mara delivering significant improvements, and underground production has restarted at Bulyanhulu.

The mines, managed through the Twiga joint venture with the Government of Tanzania, paid a maiden dividend of $250 million in October 2020. North Mara posted a record throughput in Q4 and Bulyanhulu recommenced processing of underground ore during the quarter. Bulyanhulu is scheduled to be in full production when its ramp-up is completed, expected during the first half of 2021. Also, Bulyanhulu gained ISO 14001 certification for the first time, according to the company.

“These mines are now very different businesses,” Barrick President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow. “North Mara’s life of mine production profile has been vastly improved, and implementation of its comprehensive water management plan is on track.

“Bulyanhulu’s resurrection was a particularly exceptional achievement, considering that both its shaft and plant had to be refurbished extensively. The new mine plan is designed to deliver a long-term value-driven operation,” Bristow said.

He added that the company is optimizing its 10-year plan to make the North Mara and Bulyanhulu mines the seventh Tier One asset in the Barrick portfolio.

Past grievances in Tanzania have been resolved and the remaining land legacy issues are being addressed, according to Bristow. Community development committees have been established to focus on education, health, water and agribusiness, and 21 agribusiness groups from 11 villages are already being supported at North Mara. Barrick assumed control of the operations of the former Acacia Mining in September 2019.

During 2020, Barrick invested $800 million in the Tanzanian economy in the form of taxes, permits, infrastructure development, salaries and payments to local suppliers. Capital and exploration expenditures exceeded $180 million for the year, of which half related to growth projects, and this investment is continuing into 2021, the company said.