Twiga Minerals, the joint venture between the Tanzanian government and Barrick Gold Corporation, has revitalized the country’s gold mining industry through a partnership that should serve as a model for similar operations, particularly in developing regions, Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow said today.
Briefing media at a mine visit, Bristow said in 2019 when Barrick took control over North Mara and Bulyanhulu – the mines that now form the Twiga complex – both were rundown and at a virtual standstill due to a deadlocked dispute between the government and the previous operators.
“We settled the dispute and established Twiga as a 50:50 economic benefits-sharing partnership, which also vested a 16% shareholding in each mine with the government. We reinvented the mines which now, as a combined complex, produce gold at a Tier One level, in other words, one which can produce at least 500,000 ounces of gold annually for more than 10 years at the lower half of the industry cost curve. So successful are these operations that, since Barrick’s buyout of the minority shareholders, they have contributed more than $2.8 billion to the Tanzanian economy in the form of taxes, levies, dividends, salaries and payments to local suppliers,” Bristow said.
“Equally important, we have fixed the environmental, land claims and human rights issues that destroyed these mines’ reputations and have restored their social licence to operate as an integral members of their communities. Since its establishment, Twiga has invested more than $12.5 million in landmark projects – identified in collaboration with the community development committees we established at the mines – to provide access to quality healthcare, educational facilities, potable water and alternative sources of income. Among these is an irrigation system which is expected to substantially improve production for 2,356 farmers.”
Twiga has also committed $30 million to a Future Forward School Programme. In partnership with the government, it will build 1,090 classrooms and other facilities across 161 schools nationwide, to accommodate some 49,000 of the estimated 190,000 students who will start their A-levels in July this year. In addition, it has pledged $40 million to construct a 73-kilometre road from Kahama to Kakola.
Operationally, Bristow said the Twiga complex was continuing its strong production performance and was well on track to achieve its guidance for the year. Both mines are maintaining a strong focus on their workers’ health and safety In April, Bulyanhulu won the Overall Tanzanian OSHA1 Compliance Award for 2023 in the Mining Sector Category and North Mara was second runner-up.
Globally, Barrick has a policy of prioritizing local employment and at Twiga this has delivered a workforce which is 96% Tanzanian, with almost half drawn from the communities around the mines.
Bristow said conversion drilling at North Mara was successfully replacing the reserves depleted by mining and first ore was mined at the mine’s new Gena pit last quarter. Additional opportunities for resource conversion have been identified at both mines.
“Barrick is committed to expanding its presence in Tanzania from our base here. We are currently consolidating key prospecting licences in the country with a view to expanding our existing reserves and resources as well as to discovering new world-class gold deposits,” he said.