UPDATE 1-Barrick Gold says Veladero output not impacted by suspension ruling

Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:42am EDT
 
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(Recasts with Barrick saying production not impacted by halt to cyanide pumping)

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Production at Barrick Gold Corp's Veladero mine in Argentina has not been impacted by a court-order suspending the pumping of cyanide solution for the gold leaching process, the company said on Wednesday.

A judge in the western San Juan province, where the open-pit mine is located, on Tuesday ordered pumping be halted until the company presents an improved operation and maintenance plan after a defective valve led to a cyanide leak.

While Judge Pablo Oritja's order prevents Barrick delivering more cyanide solution into leach pads, a Barrick official said it could use liquid already pumped into the leaching system.

"Veladero continues to produce using the cyanide solution that was already in the leaching valley," Barrick said in a statement.

A company official could not confirm how long operations could continue before more cyanide solution would be required to maintain operations. The technical plan requested by the judge would be completed soon, the official said.

The judge had initially ordered a five-day halt to the pumping of cyanide, but has now extended the suspension until he is satisfied improved safety measures are in place.

Oritja ordered Barrick constantly monitor its operations to prevent another leak in the future. The miner has said the Sept. 13 leak was detected almost immediately and that there had been no contamination of nearby rivers.

RBC Capital Markets told clients in a briefing note that it did not expect the incident to have a material impact on the company's 2015 production or costs.

The Veladero mine produced 722,000 ounces of gold last year and is forecast contribute about 10 percent of Barrick's 2015 gold output, RBS Capital said. (Reporting by Juliana Castilla and Richard Lough; Editing by Nick Zieminski)