Exploration & Growth Focused On Nevada Operations
TORONTO - Barrick continues to focus its exploration and growth efforts on Nevada. It is one of the most stable jurisdictions in the world and the company has a strong track record of proving up reserves in the region. Approximately 50 percent of Barrick's 2014 exploration budget is allocated to Nevada with a large majority to be used to advance Goldrush, the only significant green-field discovery by a major gold producer in the past five years. Beyond Goldrush, Barrick has several other growth opportunities and projects in Nevada near its top tier mines, including Cortez and Goldstrike, with the potential to exceed company risk-adjusted return hurdles.
The Goldrush project is located about six kilometers from the Cortez mine. It is currently in the pre-feasibility stage and the study remains on schedule for completion in mid-2015. The company is evaluating a number of development options, including underground mining or a combination of underground and open pit mining. Infill drilling is confirming continuity of high grade mineralization and supporting an underground mining scenario. During the second quarter, Barrick submitted a permit application for an exploration decline, which will help to better define the existing resource and allow the company to test for additional mineralization beyond the northern end of the deposit.
At Cortez, drilling in the Lower Zone is in the final stages of a program to upgrade and expand the resources. The Lower Zone is characterized by strong and continuous ore zones. A pre-feasibility study to evaluate deeper mining below the currently permitted level is expected to be completed by late 2015. Below this level, the Lower Zone is mostly oxide and higher grade than the zones above. Drilling has yet to determine the limits of the Lower Zone and recent drilling results have met or exceeded expectations. Based on these results, the Lower Zone exploration drift will be extended another 500 feet to the south in early 2015 to enable further step-out drilling.
During the second quarter, an Environmental Impact Assessment and Plan of Operations were approved for the 60-percent owned South Arturo project, another near-mine discovery which is located approximately eight kilometers northwest of Goldstrike. South Arturo has 1.7 million ounces in reserves, 2.4 million ounces of measured and indicated resources and 0.4 million ounces of inferred resources (100 percent basis). Barrick plans to start development in late 2015 and mine the high grade, high return portion of the resource (approximately 0.44 million ounces on a 100 percent basis) in 2016 and 2017. The bulk of the ore will be processed through Goldstrike's refractory facilities. Due to its high grade, near surface nature, the project is expected to have lower capital development and operating costs than Goldstrike.
Turquoise Ridge contains over 6.7 million ounces (100 percent basis) in reserves at an average grade of 0.51 ounces per ton, and is the highest reserve grade deposit in the company's operating portfolio. The operation is currently restricted by haulage and ventilation constraints. One option being considered is an additional shaft to reduce haulage distances. This could increase production by 75 percent for five to eight years. A pre-feasibility study on this scenario is expected to be completed in late 2014.
The company also reported that Ammar Al-Joundi, formerly Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, has been promoted to Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and will work with the Chairman on the development and execution of strategy. Darian Rich, formerly Senior Vice President, Human Resources, has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Talent Management, reflecting the critical requirement that any company seeking to be the leader in its field must attract, retain and develop exceptional people. Outgoing President and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Sokalsky to step down effective September 15, 2014.