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Barrick restores tailings storage pond in Tanzania

A major Canadian mining company has proved its industry can carry out expensive environmental projects worth their weight in gold, while continuing to deliver healthy profits to shareholders.

Barrick Gold says one of its crowning achievements in 2021 was the restoration of a tailings (mine waste) storage pond at its North Mara gold mine in Tanzania.

When Barrick took control of the mine just over two years ago, it gave a commitment to the Tanzanian government that it would rehabilitate the pond, which had been “holding significantly more water than it should.”

The situation at the swollen pond had caused it be shut down by Tanzania’s environmental management agency.

Barrick said it spent US$65 million to significantly increase capacity at the facility’s water treatment plant to 40 million litres per day as part of efforts “to bring the badly-neglected (tailings pond) into line with international best practices, as well as Barrick’s own tailings management standards,” the company said last week in a news release.

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The company also installed a brine treatment plant at the site to reduce salt levels in the facility’s effluent, while conducting “analysis of drinking water wells and surface water sources surrounding the mine.”

Tanzania is a country of 61 million people bordering the Indian Ocean in south-east Africa.

The North Mara mine project is “proof of our partnership philosophy to care for the welfare and environment of our host communities,” Barrick’s Africa and Middle East chief operating officer Willem Jacobs said in the news release.

In addition to its international operations portfolio, Barrick operates the Hemlo gold mine located about 40 kilometres east of Marathon.

Barrick has said it’s committed to cut its carbon emissions by 30% by 2030, and achieve zero emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, a corporate report on the company’s finances earlier this fall said Barrick expected to return $1.4 billion in cash to shareholders in 2021.

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