Cortez Operation Exceeds Original Guidance Range
TORONTO, ON - Barrick Gold Corporation reported that the expanded Cortez operation produced 1.14 million ounces of gold at total cash costs of $312 per ounce in 2010. Production at Cortez exceeded its original guidance range of 1.08-1.12 million ounces, and increased by 120% over 2009, mainly as a result of the commencement of production at the Cortez Hills open pit operations. The Company’s proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2010 was 14.5 million ounces of gold. Cortez Hills was completed in line with its pre-production capital budget and entered production in early 2010, becoming the seventh project in five years that Barrick has delivered on time.
The Cortez mine is located 100 kilometres southwest of Elko, Nevada in Lander County. The Cortez Pipeline property is 11 kilometres northwest and the Cortez Pediment property (which includes the Cortez Hills deposit) is 4 kilometres southeast of the original Cortez milling complex. The Pipeline and South Pipeline deposits are mined by conventional open-pit methods. The Cortez property covers approximately 2,800 square kilometres on one of the world’s most highly prospective mineral trends.
Cortez employs three different metallurgical processes to recover gold. Lower-grade oxide ore is heap leached, while higher-grade non-refractory ore is treated in a conventional mill using cyanidation and a carbon-in-leach (“CIL”) process. Heap leached ore is hauled directly to leach pads for gold recovery. Carbonaceous mill ore is mined intermittently during the mining of the Pipeline/South Pipeline deposits. The Cortez Hills underground mine is accessed by twin declines portaled in the old Cortez Gold F canyon pit. The breccia ore zone employs underhand cut and fill mining methods with cemented rock fill as backfill. The top cut of the underground mine will eventually be the bottom bench of the Cortez Hills open pit.
The Goldstrike Property produced 1.24 million ounces of gold at total cash costs of $530 per ounce. Goldstrike’s proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2010 was 12.6 million ounces of gold.
The Goldstrike Complex, located on the Carlin Trend, the most prolific gold mining district in the Western Hemisphere, about 60 kilometres northwest of Elko, Nevada. The Goldstrike operation includes the Betze-Post open pit mine and the Meikle and Rodeo underground mines which are located just north of the Betze-Post pit, along the same mineralized trend.
The Betze-Post pit is a truck-and-shovel operation using large electric shovels. Meikle is a high-grade ore body which is mined by transverse longhole stoping, underhand drift and fill mining methods. Rodeo is a further extension of the mineralization found at Goldstrike and is a trackless operation, using two different underground mining methods: long-hole open stoping and drift-and-fill. The Goldstrike Property consists of two processing facilities: an autoclave circuit, which is used to treat the property’s non-carbonaceous sulfide (refractory) ore; and the roaster, used for treating carbonaceous ore (not suitable for autoclaving). These facilities treat ores from both the surface and underground operations.
Round Mountain is a conventional open-pit operation that uses multiple processing methods including crushed ore leaching (reusable pad), run-of-mine ore leaching (dedicated pad), milling of higher-grade ore, and the gravity concentration circuit.
The Ruby Hill mine is located on the Battle Mountain/ Eureka gold trend, less than one kilometer from the town of Eureka and 193 kilometres south of the Goldstrike Property.
Round Mountain is located approximately 96 kilometres north of Tonopah in Nye County, Nevada. Round Mountain is a joint venture operation in which Barrick holds a 50% interest with Kinross Gold Corporation, the operator owning the remainder of the interest. Barrick’s share of production was 178,000 ounces of gold at average total cash costs of $721 per ounce. The Company’s share of proven and probable mineral reserves as of Decem-ber 31, 2010 was 1.3 million ounces of gold.
Ruby Hill is an open-pit, heap leach operation. In 2010, Ruby Hill produced 81,000 ounces of gold at total cash costs of $702 per ounce1. Proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2010 was 1.1 million ounces of gold.
Turquoise Ridge uses underhand cut-and-fill mining methods. Ore is transported to Newmont’s Twin Creeks mill for processing. The refractory gold ore is treated by pressure oxidation technology and gold is recovered using conventional carbon-in-leach technology.
The property is located in the Potosi Mining District, about 70 kilometres northeast of Winne-mucca, Nevada, on the eastern flank of the Osgood Mountains. Barrick is the operator and 75% owner of the mine with Newmont owning the remaining 25%.
In 2010, the Company’s 75% share of Turquoise Ridge’s production totaled 124,000 ounces of gold at total cash costs of $622 per ounce. Barrick’s share of proven and probable mineral reserves as of December 31, 2010 was 4.2 million ounces of gold.
North America is Barrick’s largest producing region with production of 3.1 million ounces of gold in 2010, or 40% of total production, at total cash costs of $489 per ounce. The region has 56.8 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves, representing 41% of the Company’s total reserves. In 2011, gold production is expected to be in the range of 3.30-3.46 million ounces at total cash costs of $425-$450 per ounce and similar to the 2010 level of $429 per ounce on an IFRS basis.
Beyond 2010, Barrick has identified various opportunities to add production within North America, including the potential of expanding the current Turquoise Ridge underground operation into a large scale open pit to mine low-grade mineralization; the Bald Mountain North Area expansion; and the use of thiosulphate technology at Goldstrike to extend the life of the autoclaves.
The North America region consists of Goldstrike, Round Mountain, Bald Mountain, Cortez, Turquoise Ridge, Golden Sunlight, Ruby Hill and Marigold in the U.S., and Hemlo in Canada.
Barrick overall, produced 7.8 million ounces of gold at total cash costs of $457 per ounce in 2010 . In addition, the Company produced 368 million pounds of copper at total cash costs of $1.11 per pound. Barrick expects gold production of 7.6-8.0 million ounces and copper production of approximately 300 million pounds. Total cash costs are expected to be $450-480 per ounce of gold or net cash costs of $340-$380 per ounce and $1.35-$1.45 per pound of copper.
The Company is targeting growth in annual gold production to 9.0 million ounces within five years, which includes production from the newly expanded Cortez mine, two advanced development projects, as well as additional opportunities around existing operations.