Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama Mine Project Expected to Move Forward
Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest listed miner of precious metal, has been attempting to get the Pascua Lama Mine— an open pit mine project of gold, silver, copper and other minerals, which straddles the Chilean-Argentinean border— up and running for some time but has had obstacle after obstacle to overcome.
In September, 2013, the company announced its intention to move forward with the South American mine but the Copiano Court of Appeals issued a ruling that Barrick Gold discontinue the $8.5-billion project until the company installs infrastructure to prevent water pollution at the site so that it meets environmental standards.
“Barrick is committed to operating at the highest environmental standards at all of its operations around the world, including at Pascua Lama,” the company responded to the court ruling. Shortly after, Barrick submitted a plan to Chilean regulatory authorities to build the infrastructure, expecting it to be completed by the end of 2014.
However, in October, 2013, after investing $5 billion into the project, the company announced a temporary suspension on the project due to economical, legal and permitting matters.
The project had also been strongly opposed by the local communities surrounding the mine, who believe Barrick Gold misrepresented how much risk the miner really faced when it began construction.
In an attempt to make peace with the locals, in July, 2014, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a group of indigenous communities in Chile’s Huasco province to build trust with the members and make additional information regarding the mining project available to them.
On Wednesday, November 12, 2014, Barrick Gold announced it is confident that the project will get built, though there is no room for error.
Edmundo Flores, Barrick Gold project executive, explains that the company still needs to get permits and complete the 2013 court mandated water system prior to resuming construction, and that this may take years.
"The company has made significant changes. I think there's definitely a way to move forward. It’s small, but it exists,” states Flores.
He continues, “We have to be careful, we can’t make mistakes… there is no room for error this time."
Pascua Lama is one of the largest gold and silver resources with more than 15 million ounces of gold reserves and 675 million ounces of silver reserves. If the stalled project moves forward, the mine is expected to produce around 850,000 ounces of gold and 35 million ounces of silver in the first five years.
Related content in Mining Global:
- Barrick Gold South America - Remarkable people
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BHP, Rio Tinto & Vale launch Charge On Innovation Challenge
Mining giants BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto have launched the 'Charge On' Innovation Challenge to solve one of the biggest challenges the industry faces today - decarbonising mining operations.
'Charge On' Innovation Challenge
In partnership with Austmine, Australia's leading mining equipment, technology and services industry association, founding patrons BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto have launched the competition to encourage technology innovators to develop new concepts for large-scale haul truck electrification systems. The main goal is cutting emissions from surface mining operations.
“The mining industry needs to be at the forefront of tackling the climate challenge. The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a great example of the current collaborative work being done by the mining industry and mobile equipment manufacturers to decarbonise mining fleets,” the trio said in a media statement.
“In addition to providing a zero-carbon energy source, the conversion of mobile mining equipment to battery-electric can potentially unlock value, as electric motors have fewer moving parts when compared to standard equipment.”
A number of non-traditional mining sector vendors are actively developing technologies that can assist in mine electrification. By submitting a Challenge to the market, the Patrons of Charge On expect to:
- Demonstrate there is an emerging market for charging solutions in mining
- Accelerate commercialization of solutions
- Indicate to suppliers, the mining industry seeks interoperable solutions
- Maintain multiple actors and competition in the supply chain
- Integrate innovations from other sectors into the mining sector
"We expect some solutions identified in the Challenge could provide propulsion to existing diesel-electric trucks. This may present a pathway to early implementation for dynamic charging solutions," the trio said.
Found patrons BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto are pledging their commitment to fighting climate change:
"The mining industry has an important role to reduce emissions and do our part to achieve the Paris Agreement goals to limit the impacts of climate change."
The Charge On Innovation Challenge asks vendors to present interoperable solutions that can safely deliver electricity to large battery-electric off-road haul trucks in a way that maintains or improves current productivity levels. Specifically, mechanisms capable of delivering in the order of 400kWh of electricity to each truck within a haul cycle (ie load, travel, dump, return, queue). The delivered electricity is to charge a battery, and if applicable directly propel the truck.
Austmine CEO Christine Gibbs Stewart commented: “We expect the Challenge will attract companies from a broad range of sectors including mining, automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and defence to deliver selected charging concepts to create a standard product that can interface with all trucks."
More information about the challenge will be released on May 18.
The competition echoes growing efforts being made across the industry to tackle emmissions and promote electrification. In march this year, the Electric Mine Consortium was launched. It's founding members include Gold Fields, Dassualt Systemes and Sandvik who pledged their commitment to decarbonising mining operations.