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Barrick gets green light to resume Veladero operations, impact 'not material'

After 19 days under a suspension order, Argentinian authorities let Barrick Gold Corp. resume normal operations at its Veladero gold mine in San Juan province, the company said in an Oct. 4 news release.

Barrick said it would assess the impact to Veladero production, but maintained company-wide production guidance between 5 million and 5.5 million ounces gold for the year at all-in sustaining costs in the range of US$750 to US$790 per gold ounce.

Getting back to normal operations wouldn't take long, and the direct costs of the suspension were small for Barrick.

"We can resume mining and stacking immediately so there is no real ramp-up required," Andy Lloyd, Barrick's senior vice president of communications, said by email.

While Lloyd said he was "not in a position to share a cost estimate," the amount was "not material."

"The biggest physical task was raising the berms, which had a cost for materials and labor," he said, adding, "however the labor was performed by mine employees already on payroll."

Authorities in San Juan province suspended the operation Sept. 15, after Barrick reported a leak in a pipe carrying fluids from the leach pad area of Veladero that contained cyanide.

Barrick had expected San Juan courts to allow normal operations to resume last week, after it had completed remediation and other works at Veladero.

But Pablo Oritja, the San Juan judge overseeing the suspension in the courts, decided last week to maintain the suspension, saying that mining police reported not all works requested by the government had been completed.

Barrick then quickly fired off additional documents to the courts to show that it had done everything it was required to do.

Oritja, who went on vacation Friday, handed the file over to judge Hugo Marcos Quiroga, who confirmed in a phone call to court offices in Jachal that he was overseeing Oritja's duties.

Earlier this year, Barrick was fined about US$10 million in relation to an unauthorized release of process fluids at the mine in 2015.