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Barrick looks to extend Hemlo mine life past 2030

Nov 20, 2021

By Kevin Vincent
Production at Barrick’s Hemlo Mine was down through the first six months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The company produced 42,000 ounces this year compared to 54,000 in 2020, a 22% drop.

Those kinds of numbers don’t phase one of the world’s top gold producers, as Barrick is focused on long-term, not short-term objectives.

“The gold mining industry’s chronic tendency to harvest the gold price instead of investing in the future has resulted in declining reserves and a shortage of high-quality development projects. At Barrick, on the other hand, a strong exploration culture combined with its sustainable profitability strategy is expanding its asset base as we look to discover exciting new opportunities,” said president and chief executive Mark Bristow in the company’s quarterly filings.

“We’re constantly pumping new prospects into a development and project pipeline which already contains Goldrush, Fourmile and Robertson in Nevada, Donlin in Alaska, as well as new Loulo-Gounkoto and Kibali targets in Africa.

“The fact is that the industry has not been replacing what it’s been mining. Barrick, on the other hand, is running its business for the long term instead of focusing on short-term gains and working to extend its resource-based 10-year plans to 15 and even 20 years,” Bristow said.

Barrick is still projecting 200-220 ounces at Hemlo by year’s end with average costs of between $1280 and $1330 per ounce.

Hemlo has produced more than 21 million ounces of gold and has been operating continuously for more than 30 years. It consists of the Williams mine—an underground and open pit operation—located about 350 kilometers east of Thunder Bay.

Hemlo’s gold production in the second quarter of 2021 was 11% lower than the prior quarter due to lower grades mined from the underground. Underground ore mined in the second quarter of 2021 was in line with the prior quarter, as efforts to improve efficiency and utilization continue.

Cost of sales per ounce and total cash costs per ounce in the second quarter of 2021 were largely in line with the prior quarter, as the impact of lower sales volume was offset by lower royalty expenses due to mining from underground zones that incurred a lower royalty burden.

As part of the company’s efforts to upgrade and improve the operating performance of Hemlo, a new portal is currently under development to access the Upper C Zone, with mining expected to begin in the third quarter of 2021.

Improving flexibility with a third mining front and a focus on development in existing mining fronts will allow the underground to steadily increase production rates and reduce operating costs per ounce.

The pace of this transition has been impacted by ongoing Covid-19 related restrictions. A new General Manager with significant underground expertise, most recently at NGM’s Carlin operations, joined the Hemlo team in late June 2021.
Drilling programs are underway to potentially add resources to extend the mine life past 2030, with promising initial results to the west of current operations as well as to the east at depth beneath historic workings.

For this article and more on Northwestern Ontario's Mining Activity click on the front cover of the Mining Life & Exploration News October issue below:

Mining Life front cover

Tags: Northern Ontario / Operational Updates / Gold / All Articles