October 4, 2016 / 4:26 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 2-Barrick Gold's Argentina mine resumes operations after spill

(Adds confirmation from authorities in Argentina, background)

Oct 4 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp said on Tuesday normal operations had resumed at its Veladero mine in Argentina following approval from local authorities after processing solution containing cyanide spilled last month.

Operations were suspended at the mine on Sept. 15 after falling ice damaged a pipe, spilling some crushed ore saturated with process solution containing cyanide. This is the second cyanide spill in just over a year at Veladero.

A spokesman for the province of San Juan confirmed local judge Hugo Quiroga had lifted the suspension.

“The mining company completed the measures required ... so the resumption of mining was ordered,” said Osvaldo Lima, undersecretary of public information of San Juan.

Measures ordered by the province included increasing the height of the perimeter berms, or raised banks, surrounding the leach pad where the gold is leached from the ore.

Barrick, the world’s biggest gold producer by output, said it would continue to assess the impact of the temporary suspension on Veladero’s production for this year.

However, the Toronto-based miner continues to expect total production for the company to be in the range of 5 million to 5.5 million ounces at all-in sustaining costs in a range of $750 to $790 an ounce.

Veladero, an open pit mine, is one of Barrick’s five core operations. The company is targeting production of 580,000 to 640,000 ounces of gold a year from the mine.

Barrick said “extensive” water monitoring in the area had confirmed the incident did not have any environmental impact. The spilled material remained within the boundaries of the mine site.

The miner has not said how much processing solution spilled. Barrick was fined nearly $10 million by authorities in San Juan for last year’s leak, which was caused by a defective valve.

Barrick’s shares were down 7.3 percent at C$21.12, in line with other gold stocks as the sector was punctured by bullion’s slide to below $1,300 an ounce, its lowest level in three months. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; additional reporting by by Maximilian Heath in Buenos Aires; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Alan Crosby)

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