Barrick Gold Corporation reported third quarter results for the period ending September 30, 2017. Lower revenues, earnings, and cash flow for the quarter reflect lower gold production compared to the prior-year period. Despite these factors, a stronger balance sheet and robust cash flow generation allowed the company to increase investments in the future of our business, with the ultimate objective of growing free cash flow per share over the long term.
In that way, Barrick has made significant progress on a prefeasibility study for the development of an underground, block caving operation at Pascua-Lama (located in the III Region of Chile, and San Juan province of Argentina) The project would utilize the existing process plant and tailings facility on the Argentinean side of the border, construction of which is already well advanced.
In order to complete the prefeasibility study, de-risk the project and improve economics, Barrick is undertaking a number of optimization studies, along with a focused drilling campaign during the 2017/2018 summer season in the southern hemisphere. Previous drilling on the deposit was primarily undertaken in support of open pit mining plans. This campaign will focus on improving ore body knowledge on the Argentinean side of the deposit where further data is needed to validate underground development plans and metallurgy.
A switch to underground mining addresses a number of stakeholder concerns by significantly reducing surface land disturbance and therefore the overall environmental footprint of the project, as compared to an open pit operation. In addition, an underground mine would be less susceptible to weather-related production interruptions during the winter season.
In keeping with Barrick’s strategic cooperation agreement with Shandong Gold, representatives from Shandong will also work with the project team to exchange knowledge, experience and technologies that have the potential to further optimize Pascua-Lama.