North Mara Tailings pond, before and after treatment. Image from Barrick.
Barrick Gold (NYSE: GOLD) (TSE: ABX) announced Wednesday that its North Mara mine in Tanzania had achieved its commitment to bring the operation’s tailings storage facility’s (TSF) pond back within its permitted design capacity by the end of the year.
North Mara is one of the three operations Barrick has in Tanzania. It assumed control of the assets after re-acquiring Acacia Mining in September 2019, settling a long-running tax dispute between Tanzania and Acacia, which Barrick bought in a $1.2 billion transaction.
Barrick said it made the commitment to the Tanzanian government when it took over control of the mine in September 2019, at a time when the country’s National Environment Management Council (NEMC) had closed down the TSF, then holding significantly more water than it should.
The company’s chief operating officer for Africa and the Middle East, Willem Jacobs said hitting the target was a huge milestone for North Mara and its team, who were able to bring the neglected TSF into line with international best practice as well as Barrick’s own tailings management standards.
Barrick spent over $65 million on the project, increasing the water treatment plant’s capacity 16-fold from 2.5 million litres per day to 40 million litres per day, the company said in the statement.
The addition of a brine treatment plant has reduced the volume of salts in the effluent water, enabling it to be stored safely, Barrick said. North Mara will continue to monitor the TSF’s performance and will engage regularly with the relevant authorities to ensure that its high standards are maintained. This includes the analysis of drinking water wells and surface water sources surrounding the mine.
“When we took over the old Acacia assets in Tanzania, we formed a partnership with the government to oversee these mines,” Jacobs said. “The real benefits of this partnership included the swift resumption of operations at North Mara and the revitalization of the moribund Bulyanhulu, now both valuable members of the Barrick portfolio.”