Finding new deposits of gold is one of the key elements of keeping the pipeline of mining operations full in Nevada, and Barrick Gold’s Goldrush deposit in the Pine Valley of Eureka County could prove to be one of the company’s most significant discoveries.
After an extensive drilling campaign conducted throughout 2012, Barrick adjusted its resource estimate for the Goldrush deposit to 14.1 million ounces of gold, including 8.4 million ounces of measured and indicated resources and 5.7 million ounces of inferred resources. Those figures are more than a 500-percent increase from what the company first thought it had in 2011, Barrick said in its 2012 year-end report to investors.
Barrick has committed between $400 million and $440 million for global exploration in 2013, of which approximately 50 percent is earmarked for exploration at its Nevada holdings. The full scope of gold buried underground at the Goldrush complex has yet to be fully defined, but the company will spend much of 2013 continuing exploration work to expand and update resource estimates.
“The system remains open in multiple directions,” company executives said in a report to investors. “As this project advances through prefeasibility, a number of development options are being considered, including both open pit mining, underground mining, or a combination of both. Shallow mineralization has been encountered to the west, and high-grade mineralization has been encountered to the north, which provides flexibility on mining and development options.”
Lou Schack, director of communications for Barrick Gold of North America, said further exploration drilling will help Barrick move inferred resources estimates into the measured and indicated category, a more concrete understanding of how much gold actually is in the ground.
“After a few seasons of drilling, Goldrush may turn out to be one of the most significant Nevada gold discoveries of the last 10-plus years,” Schack said.
Once the full scope of the gold resource has been defined at Goldrush, the company will proceed to pre-feasibility and feasibility studies to best determine a plan to extract gold from the ore, Schack said.
“If those results meet our investment criteria, we will prepare a mine plan and begin the permitting process,” he said.
Placing a timeline on bringing the Goldrush deposit into full production is difficult, Schack noted, but permitting a new mine in Nevada typically is a five- to 10-year process, and Barrick announced in 2012 it will pull back on new mine development to control costs.
“Permitting is a complex and slow process but we have a great deal of experience and expertise in this area. We appreciate the support and cooperation of Eureka County officials and the residents of Pine Valley as we continue our work on this promising discovery.”
Goldrush is located near Barrick’s existing Cortez and Pipeline operations, so Goldrush could capitalize on the network of infrastructure already in place at those mine sites. Projected cost for bringing the mine online depends on many factors, Schack noted, such as the choice of mining and processing methods, milling capacity and other factors, Schack said.
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