Gold miner Barrick Gold’s Loulo, Gounkoto and the former Morila mines have contributed $8.7-billion to the Malian economy in the 25 years the company has been operating in the country and, over the past decade, these operations have accounted for between 5% and 10% of its gross domestic product, president and CE Mark Bristow has said.
Speaking to local media, he said that, throughout Barrick’s long partnership with Mali, it had supported the country during some difficult times in its history.
He posited that the company’s relationship with successive governments continued to be mutually beneficial, with the Loulo-Gounkoto complex — one of its tier one assets — on track to meet its 2022 production guidance.
“In line with our long-term commitment to Mali, we continue to invest in exploration to extend the life of the complex, which regularly more than replaces the gold it mines each year.
“The Loulo district is still delivering high-quality targets and we’re upgrading the complex’s infrastructure to support both openpit pushbacks and extensions at Yalea and Gara. In the meantime, the new Gounkoto underground mine is progressing its development towards scheduled commencement of stoping next year,” he said.
Bristow highlighted Loulo-Gounkoto as an example of Barrick’s policy of recruiting and developing the people of its host countries.
Malian nationals account for 95% of the complex’s workforce and they are led by an all-Malian management team.
Similarly, he said the company had invested in the growth of local business partners, ranging from key contractors to fuel and lubricant suppliers. In the year to date, it has spent $395-million with these partners, representing 80% of its total purchases.
According to Bristow, Loulo-Gounkoto had improved the quality of life in its surrounding communities through its investment in projects designed to provide them with access to healthcare, education, food security and potable water.
An ongoing programme to train local entrepreneurs in business development has been initiated, with the first cohort recently graduating.
Bristow also said that Loulo-Gounkoto was taking aggressive action to reverse the recent rise in the malaria infection rate after a long period in which it steadily decreased. This includes a door-to-door awareness campaign in the local villages, a workshop held alongside the country’s national director of malaria control, close cooperation with regional healthcare authorities and working with other mining companies to identify and leverage synergies in the various malaria response plans.