Barrick Gold Corporation has its sights on production from a new US$7 billion copper-gold venture in Pakistan by 2028 after a favourable Supreme Court ruling and law reform enabling reconstitution of the Reko Diq project.
Described by the gold major as one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold porphyry deposits, Reko Diq is now 50% owned by Barrick, 25% by Pakistan state-owned enterprises, and 25% by Balochistan province.
A 2010 feasibility study put Reko Diq’s measured and indicated resources at 3 billion tonnes grading 0.48% copper and 0.26 grams per tonne gold, and inferred at 2.9 billion tonnes at 0.35% copper and 0.18gpt gold.
“We are currently updating the project’s 2010 feasibility and 2011 feasibility expansion studies,” said Barrick CEO Mark Bristow.
“This should be completed by 2024, with 2028 targeted for first production.
“With its unique combination of large scale, low strip and good grade, Reko Diq is expected to have a life of at least 40 years. We envisage a truck-and-shovel open pit operation with processing facilities producing a high-quality copper-gold concentrate.
“We expect it to be constructed in two phases with a combined process capacity of 80 million tonnes per annum.
“We’re making sure that Balochistan and its people will see these benefits quickly.
“Starting early next year, Barrick will implement a range of social development programs prioritising the improvement of healthcare, education, vocational training, food security and the provision of potable water. Our investment in these is expected to amount to around $70 million over the feasibility and construction period. In addition, Reko Diq will advance royalties to the government of Balochistan of up to $50 million until commercial production starts.”
Construction work on the project is expected to provide employment for up to 7500 people, while the operating mine would need 4000 workers.