Pueblo Viejo Expansion Project Moves Forward

Rio Barrick Pueblo Viejo and its key stakeholders have agreed on independent government-led oversight of the strategic environmental and social impact assessment studies for the new tailings storage facility at the project in the Dominican Republic. This facility, which forms part of an expansion project that will require an initial new investment by Pueblo Viejo of $1.3 billion, is key to the mine continuing to operate beyond 2021 and could extend the Tier One mine’s life beyond 2040, supporting annual production in excess of 800,000 ounces (oz), according to the company. Pueblo Viejo is operated by the Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corp., a joint venture between Barrick (60%) and Newmont (40%).

The agreement comes after more than a year of engagement with the communities that could be directly or indirectly affected by the proposed facility and is an important step toward starting fieldwork and advancing the permitting process. The independent investigation will be conducted by a leading international firm of specialists and run in parallel with Barrick’s engineering and environmental studies.

The studies will ensure the applicable environmental standards and regulations are complied with, including actions for the protection of surface water and groundwater, biodiversity and cultural heritage. “The expansion project has the potential to allow Pueblo Viejo to convert approximately 9 million oz of measured and indicated resources to proven and probable reserves,” Barrick President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow said.

“At Barrick we have a commitment to responsible mining and transparency, so we welcome such initiatives. From 2013 to July 2021, Barrick Pueblo Viejo has paid more than $2.9 billion in direct and indirect taxes and last year its exports accounted for 37% of the total national asset exports. Barrick has also started work on a local agribusiness development which will be integrated into the tailings facility and create a further benefit for the community,” he said.

Bristow said with the expansion project, Pueblo Viejo’s total economic contribution to the Dominican government in direct and indirect taxes is expected to be more than $9 billion from the beginning of commercial production in 2013 through the extended life of mine beyond 20403. Pueblo Viejo is the Dominican Republic’s largest corporate taxpayer.

Pueblo Viejo’s previous operator, Rosario Dominicana, abandoned the mine in 1995 without a proper closure, leaving it with a major water contamination problem, according to Barrick. When Barrick took over the asset, it launched the largest environmental clean-up campaign in the country’s history, and the water quality of the aquifers around the operation has significantly improved and now meets regulatory standards.

As featured in Womp 2021 Vol 08 - www.womp-int.com