Barrick Considers Design Changes to Restart Pascua-Lama Project

  • Company is ‘trying to be as creative as we can’ at the project
  • Reiterates that Barrick would consider taking on a partner

Barrick Gold Corp., the biggest gold miner, is looking into ways to restart its stalled Pascua-Lama project on the Chile-Argentina border, including a staged development.

Possible changes to the decade-old mine plan include a smaller open pit, an underground mine on either side of the border or starting with one line in the mill to generate cash for two others, Barrick President Kelvin Dushnisky said Friday.

The giant project in the Andes has been shuttered since 2013, when a Chilean court accepted an injunction filed by indigenous groups over environmental concerns. In a February interview, Executive Chairman John Thornton said Zijin Mining Group Co., with which Barrick created a joint venture at a mine in Papua New Guinea, may help turn Pascua-Lama into a success by spreading the financial and political risk.

In an interview in Toronto today, Dushnisky reiterated that Barrick would consider taking on a partner for Pascua-Lama as it weighs changes to the project’s design.

“We’re trying to be as creative as we can in looking at Pascua-Lama and seeing if there’s a way to start it again and generate cash flow to build successive stages,” he said

In May, Barrick agreed to pay $140 million to shareholders who alleged the company misrepresented environmental compliance and the adequacy of its internal controls at Pascua-Lama. While it settled the suit, Barrick said those allegations are unfounded.

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