Business Profiles Featured

Barrick Gold Corporation: The Largest Gold Mine in Africa

Spanning 13 countries, with 16 sites of operation producing gold and copper worldwide, Barrick Gold Corporation is a global heavyweight in the gold mine sector. Its expansive portfolio can be seen across the world finding and operating some of the most prolific, high-margin, and long-life assets in the gold mining sector. Barrick Gold’s operations have key stakes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it operates the largest gold mine in Africa. With the vital development of the gold mining sector in the DRC, Barrick Gold has cemented its place as a key gold producer on both local and international scales. However, even with such a worldwide reputation for gold mining, Barrick Gold’s operations are always focused on stimulating thriving and sustainable economies for local communities.  

In the DRC, Barrick Gold has the Kibali Mine Project located 220km from the Haute-Uele province. The mine is owned by Kibali Goldmines SA (Kibali), a joint venture company with 45% ownership with Barrick Gold, 45% with AngloGold Ashanti, and the final 10% by Société Miniére de Kilo-Moto (SOKIMO). The mine is operated by Barrick Gold, and in 2023 produced 343,000 ounces of gold in 2023. The mine has been in operation for the last 10 years, and over that decade has grown to now be the largest and most automated gold mine in Africa. With this vast expansion, the DRC has greatly benefitted from the mine seeing it boost a previously non-existent economy.  

The mine itself combines both open pit and underground mining to retrieve the 4.7 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves. The first gold was poured from the Kibali Mine Project in 2013 from its open pit operations. Shortly after, underground mining began, with the ore being truck hauled by a twin decline to the surface. However, in 2017, this system was replaced by a hauling shaft and materials handling system, which greatly increased the ore production operations.  

Today the Kibali Mine Project is made up of 10 mining concessions and a metallurgic plant. The plant comprises twin-circuit sulphide and oxide plants with conventional carbon-in-leach, including gravity recovery as well as a floating and ultra-fine grin circuit. In addition to this, the Kibali mine is also home to 3 hydropower stations which in the first quarter of 2024 contributed a power blend average of 90.89%, with a generating average power output of 4MW at 0.09$/kWh. This shift towards hydroelectric power highlights Barrick Gold’s commitment to implementing green initiatives across its sites of operations to produce great economic benefits for the region, whilst limiting its impact on the environment.  

To further facilitate the green electricity supply of the project, a new 16MW solar plant and a battery energy storage infrastructure are being commissioned to help offset the cyclical load on the energy grid and reduce the mine’s overall reliance on diesel-powered generators. It is expected that once in full operation, the miner’s overall renewable energy supply will increase from the current 81% to 85%, with the project running entirely on renewable energy for 6 months of the year.  

President and Chief Executive of Barrick Gold, Mark Bristow outlines this key development towards sustainability in a press release, noting that, “Bearing in mind that Kibali is also a leader in automation, the mine is a real role model for mining in Africa. As a long-standing partner of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we built Kibali in the remote north-east of the country, opening a new mining frontier and, in the process, also promoted the development of a flourishing local economy”. Bristow’s comments highlight the main goal of the project to deliver vital gold production, whilst always working to reduce environmental impacts where it can and create economic benefits for the DRC simultaneously.  

As the Kibali mine looks towards the future, it is looking to enter into new gold and copper opportunities in partnership with the government of the DRC. The project’s commitment to boosting the local economy and reducing environmental impacts has already been vastly seen across its last 10 years of operation. Therefore, the project is looking to work more directly with the government to make vital steps towards making the mine project provide even greater economic benefits to the country. In addition to this, Kibali recently announced a key collaboration with the ARSP, a public regulator which oversees the country’s sub-contracting sector, which has already seen a vital range of initiatives implemented to bolster Kibali’s leading local content strategy.  

Overall, the Kibali Mine Project in the DRC highlights the joint venture’s commitment to developing the gold mining industry in Africa, whilst also implementing real change to local communities and the environment. Through a range of key investments, collaboration with local suppliers, and implementation of renewable energy initiatives, Barrick Gold and the Kibali Mine are setting up the project and country for continued economic, environmental, and social development for the future.