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Successful exploration is the lifeline for any mining company, being to mining what R&D is to the pharmaceutical industry. Both Barrick and Randgold were built on pioneering exploration success as well as significant reserve additions that followed key acquisitions.


2020 Regional Exploration Triangle

Strategy and portfolio management

Barrick’s strategy is to:

  • Consolidate and secure dominant land positions in its favored operating districts and expand beyond current jurisdictions into emerging new prospective geological domains.
  • Focus on economically feasible Tier One discoveries.
  • Collaborate closely with Mineral Resource Managers to optimize and deliver value from existing orebodies and mining operations.
  • Establish and develop motivated and highly agile discovery driven teams.

Barrick’s exploration portfolio is managed through the resource triangle. Projects must pass a set of filters to advance, otherwise they are eliminated. Barrick aims to ensure it is continually replenishing the resource triangle at all stages and keeping it balanced.

The company is already in many of the world’s most prospective gold districts, but it continues to look for emerging new gold districts wherever they may be.

The first half of 2019, in many instances, was spent focused on improving Barrick’s mine geological databases, borehole logging as well as geological and grade control models. This has laid the foundations for improved geology models which are critical for more reliable resource models to help optimize mine planning. Barrick is now well placed to resume investing in its future through focused greenfields exploration, driven by the clear understanding that it is exploration that ultimately drives the company’s value chain.

Barrick has active reconnaissance teams scouting for new Tier One opportunities in Canada, the Guiana Shield, and more recently in Japan and Tanzania. Its teams conduct close surveillance of competitor activity to identify emerging new discoveries and projects where the full potential to yield a discovery has not yet been realized.

The relationship and integration with the company’s unique mineral resource management (MRM) model as a core part of its operating culture, introduces responsible and sustainable stewardship of its valuable orebodies to optimize and deliver that value. Every site has an exploration and MRM lead who work together to ensure Barrick updates and improves its geological models and look to immediate opportunities to identify brownfields potential for resource and ultimately, reserve additions. Over the past year, the company appointed new leaders that embrace its values and culture at all sites.

North America

The Nevada Gold Mines joint venture controls more than two million acres surrounding the mines. A reinvigorated exploration effort targeting the newly consolidated land holdings is well timed to leverage experience and skills honed at Fourmile, the latest in a string of high-grade and concealed deposits discovered within the Cortez district.

Teams of discovery-driven explorers have been established or reinforced at the three main mining centres. Unifying geology models of the newly consolidated mining districts is a top priority to ensure a solid geological foundation for target delineation and testing and will carry forward to all aspects of the value chain following discovery. The models reflect extensive data sets from decades of diligent field work and interpretation. Multiple walk-up drill targets have been identified in addition to highlighting extensive areas of prospective stratigraphy and geological features with little to no drilling. Barrick is confident that the JV will continue to extend mine life and make meaningful new discoveries in the years to come.

At Fourmile, geological modeling became progressively more sophisticated as drilling advanced and the controls to mineralization were understood. An improved understanding of the vectors to mineralization means targeting is becoming increasingly predictive, and therefore will lead to the next discovery faster.

During 2019, the inferred resource at Fourmile increased by over 170% to 1.9Moz. Targeting a projected structural intersection delivered a new discovery more than 1km from the resource and that discovery was validated with another exceptional high-grade hole.

The Carlin Trend remains a target rich environment. The 2019 program focused on merging massive datasets in support of geological modeling. Drilling was initiated to test highly ranked target concepts as well as establish a geological framework in priority areas lacking drill information. Looking forward, the Carlin Trend will become the most active exploration area in Barrick’s portfolio.

At Turquoise Ridge, unification of the district geology was the focus following consolidation of the mining camp. The work to date has successfully closed knowledge gaps between Turquoise Ridge and Twin Creeks. As with other districts, targets will be identified from high quality geological modeling to maximize the opportunity for success.


Exploration North America

Latin America and Asia Pacific

Much of the group’s 2019 exploration focus was on rebuilding reliable fact-based geology models which are forming the foundations for higher confidence resource models. The new insights on the controls to mineralization garnered from this work have led to the generation of new district scale targets. The number of drill targets in our resource triangle tripled by year-end. The exploration focus is now pivoting to grow and replenish the resource triangle with new high-quality projects through generative and new business activities.

Drilling and successfully validating new conceptual targets at Veladero has the potential to unlock and rejuvenate the district. In the mining-friendly Salta Province of northern Argentina, Barrick is establishing a foothold in this poorly explored gold-silver-copper district, and continues to evaluate properties in the province, with the view to establishing a large high-quality portfolio.

At Pueblo Viejo, drilling is confirming the newly interpreted high-grade controls to mineralization. In parallel, exploration efforts have begun for the first time beyond the bounds of the Pueblo Viejo JV permit. Barrick has consolidated and initiated exploration on new greenfields properties across the island.

At Lagunas Norte, the company’s focus has been to drill out and update the PMR (refractory sulphide) orebody model and evaluate four prospective satellite oxide targets to establish whether it can add enough value to restart the mine and add additional infrastructure to process the refractory sulphide ore or sell it.

The El Indio Belt has been a prolific generator of world class discoveries, totaling some 50Moz gold over the last 40 years. Deposits were mostly discovered through classic prospecting and exploration techniques and leveraged remote sensing, to recognize large alteration zones associated with hydrothermal systems. However, the next generation of discoveries will be partly or wholly concealed by post mineral cover rocks. Barrick is embarking on a new wave of modern exploration, applying its evolved knowledge through four decades of discoveries and development and the advanced technologies available today, and is optimistic in its belief that there are more world-class discoveries to be made at El Indio.

On the Alturas-Del Carmen project, drilling of four satellite targets around the 8.9Moz Alturas discovery is underway to contribute to an updated study in 2020.

An exploration re-evaluation of Porgera concluded that there are some excellent growth opportunities which are being accelerated to establish a long-term vision for the mine.

El Indio Belt: Prolific endowment and barely scratched the surface

Latam Exploration Focus

Africa and Middle East

In Senegal, field-work has restarted on the Bambadji permit which is part of the 20Moz Loulo district. Weathered and alluvial material can mask underlying mineralization. An auger program to test structural corridors has confirmed the extension of insitu anomalism beneath the weathered material and connected a number of existing isolated soil anomalies. The program identified the Gefa-Maliki anomalous corridor over a 12km strike and initial RC drilling returned early, strong results. This is an exciting development.

Across the border in Mali, brownfields work at Loulo-Gounkoto successfully extended the high-grade mineralization at Yalea, Gounkoto and Loulo 3, where work continues to define the potential for additional underground ounces. In particular, the transfer zone at Yalea has been extended over 300m, which will contribute high-grade tonnes to the Yalea underground mine. New greenfield targets were generated along the Yalea structure and the domain boundary to the south of Gounkoto with followup planned during 2020.

In Côte d’Ivoire, following the completion of resource conversion drilling at Djinni, optimization work on the updated model returned positive results with the deposit adding 139koz @ 2.30g/t to indicated resources and 92koz @ 2.4g/t to inferred resources Djinni includes 1.8Mt at 2.30g/t Au for 139koz of indicated mineral resources and 1.2Mt at 2.4g/t Au for 92koz of inferred mineral resources. (on a 100% basis) and extending the Tongon Life of Mine by almost a year. The Boundiali mineralization is currently under review as a potential satellite feed supply for the Tongon mine.

At Kibali, the Kalimva-Ikamva prefeasibility study was successfully completed, adding new open pit reserves and extending the open pit mine life to 2030. Oere has also been an area of focus for ounce delivery along the KZ North structure. Drilling has also confirmed high-grade underground potential at the old Gorumbwa mine and exploration continues along the KZ structure.

In Tanzania, an updated geological model for Gokona at North Mara has identified significant upside along strike in both directions and in the footwall of the deposit, where previous drilling was sub-parallel to folded lithological contacts. This new model is being extended east to cover the Nyabigena deposit. New targets have also been generated along the highly-prospective +20km long Gokona mineralized trend.


Africa Exploration Focus

2 In Q1 2020, Barrick sold its stake in Massawa to Teranga Gold Corporation and retained an 11% equity interest in Teranga.