VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Barrick Gold and Goldcorp’s Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation (PVDC), in the Dominican Republic, will convert the Quisqueya I power generation facility from heavy fuel oil (HFO) to natural gas, with the expectation of saving about $54/oz of gold produced over the remaining life of the operation.
Quisqueya I is owned and operated by the PVDC and supplies power to the Pueblo Viejo mine.
The companies announced that PVDC – the operator of the mine – has signed a ten-year natural gas supply contract with AES Andres that will allow the conversion to take place.
Barrick said in a statement on Monday that the operation also expects to benefit from higher margins on the sale of excess power to the national energy grid. Cost savings expected from the conversion of the facility from HFO to natural gas were reflected in Barrick’s most recent consolidated cost guidance for 2019 to 2022.
“Pueblo Viejo is already a core asset with industry-leading margins and a strong record of operational excellence. Converting the mine’s power plant to natural gas is expected to reduce Pueblo Viejo’s cost structure and drive incremental improvements in cash flow over the life of the mine, driving additional long-term value for our owners, as well as our government and community partners,” Barrick senior VP for operation and technical excellence Greg Walker advised in a news release.
Natural gas is expected to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions associated with Pueblo Viejo by about 260 000 t/y of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The operational enhancement comes at a cost of about $7.5-million, an investment that significantly exceeds Barrick’s 15% hurdle rate, the company pointed out. AES will build a new gas pipeline to the facility, with commercial gas production expected to start in the second half of 2019.
Barrick is currently advancing prefeasibility studies for a plant expansion at the Pueblo Viejo mine that has the potential to significantly increase throughput at the operation. Conversion of the power plant to natural gas is anticipated to further strengthen the economics of the project.
Barrick expects 2018 attributable output from Pueblo Viejo of between 585 000 oz to 615 000 oz of gold at cash costs of $425/oz to $450/oz, and all-in sustaining costs of $590/oz to $620/oz.