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Gold miner Barrick seeks to deepen presence in Côte d’Ivoire

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Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:GOLD) (TSX:ABX) is actively seeking to extend the life of its Tongon gold mine while at the same time exploring new opportunities elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire, president and chief executive Mark Bristow said here today.

Speaking at a briefing for local media visiting the mine, Bristow noted that Tongon was now in its 10th year of operations while its developer Randgold Resources, since merged with Barrick, had been involved in Côte d’Ivoire for more than 20 years, spending in excess of $90 million (CFA 52 billion) on exploration alone during that time.

“Tongon was discovered and developed in the midst of a civil war and since then has had to contend with almost every conceivable challenge including social and political unrest in the region, a protracted work stoppage and an erratic power supply.

Thanks to a committed and courageous management team – comprised almost entirely of Ivorian nationals – the mine has nevertheless been consistently profitable, delivering significant value to all its stakeholders and pointing the way for the growth of the country’s mining industry and economy,” Bristow said.

“On current reserves, Tongon has under three years of life left, but we hope to extend that by converting near-mine resources to reserves, exploring the potential of satellite deposits and probing targets along the Badenou trend in the Tongon lease area.  We are also seeking to advance the agribusiness projects designed to provide economic opportunity and food security for the local community after the mine’s closure.”

Elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire, extensive exploration work is under way on all the permits within the company’s large portfolio, which covers the most prospective parts of the country.

Bristow said the success of this program depended in part on the government’s continued support in the processing of applications and facilitating access to permits.

He added that since the President had appointed a dedicated Minister of Mines, there had been a significant change in how the Government was working with the industry to address key issues that had proved to be impediments in the past.

Turning to the mine’s current performance, Bristow said Tongon had rebuilt the capacity compromised by last year’s extended work stoppages, and at the halfway stage of 2019 was on track to achieve its production target of approximately 290 000 ounces of gold.

Its continuing engagement with the Government and the national power utility has resulted in a significant improvement in the stability of the power supply on the back of the expansion of the regional infrastructure.  It is also maintaining a positive industrial relations climate on the mine.

The mine’s safety record remains exemplary and to date it has worked more than 8.7 million Lost-Time Injury-Free Hours.  Its safety and environmental certifications have been renewed and its water management has improved further.

In conjunction with an NGO, Tongon continues effectively to manage public health on the mine and in the surrounding community through malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

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