Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — 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.
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 to beyond 2040, supporting annual production in excess of 800,000 ounces.
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 towards 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 that 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 ounces of measured and indicated resources to proven and probable reserves,” says Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow.
“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 that with the expansion project, Pueblo Viejo’s total economic contribution to the Dominican government in direct and indirect taxes is expected to be over $9 billion from the beginning of commercial production in 2013 through the extended life of mine beyond 2040. Pueblo Viejo is the Dominican Republic’s largest corporate taxpayer.
“Pueblo Viejo has had a significant positive environmental, social and economic impact in the country and we hope that this will continue for many years to come. Our purpose is to continue contributing to the social and economic development of the country, while applying our sustainability vision which is to create long-term value for all our stakeholders, including the governments and people of our host countries,” said Bristow.
Pueblo Viejo’s previous operator, Rosario Dominicana, effectively abandoned the mine in 1995 without a proper closure, leaving it with a major water contamination problem. 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.
Pueblo Viejo is located in the Dominican Republic, approximately 100 kilometers northwest of the capital city of Santo Domingo, and is operated by the Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation — a joint venture between Barrick (60%) and Newmont (40%).
Development of the Pueblo Viejo project started in 2009, with first production in 2012. The company’s workforce is 97% Dominican. Last year, the conversion of the mine’s Quisqueya 1 power plant to natural gas was successfully completed.
This conversion from fuel oil to natural gas will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and nitrogen oxide by 85%, further reducing Pueblo Viejo’s impact on the environment. An agribusiness project is also planned as an additional benefit for the local communities.