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Barrick says rain may delay Dominican gold mine

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MONTREAL (AFP) – The world's top gold producer Barrick has said it may have to delay the start of operations at a major mine in the Dominican Republic after heavy rains swamped its facilities.

"The rainfall event is expected to affect the start-up schedule, which previously anticipated production to commence in Q1 2012," the Canadian firm said on Thursday, referring to its billion-dollar Pueblo Viejo project.

"A process is underway to assess the damage to the tailings facility and the impact to both the construction timeline and the pre-production capital budget of $3.3-$3.5 billion."

The mining site was deluged with 217 millimeters (8.5 inches) of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, forcing the company to evacuate most workers for fear that a key road would be washed out.

The Pueblo Viejo mine, located around 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of the capital Santo Domingo, contains an estimated 23.7 million ounces of gold reserves and is 60-percent owned by Barrick.

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