The move follows the signing of 10-year natural gas supply contract by PVDC with AES Andres DR, in the Dominican Republic.

PVDC, the operator of the Pueblo Viejo mine gold mine located in the north-central region of the Dominican Republic, is a joint venture between Barrick with 60% stake and Goldcorp with 40% interest.

Barrick operation and technical excellence senior vice-president Greg Walker said: “Pueblo Viejo is already a core asset with industry-leading margins and a strong track 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.”

Owned and operated by PVDC, the Quisqueya I power plant supplies power to the Pueblo Viejo mine.

Estimated to cost about $7.5m, the conversion of the facility is expected to help reduce the mine’s average cost of sales and all-in sustaining costs by approximately $54 per ounce over the life of the mine.

Barrick said in a statement: “In addition, the use of natural gas is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with Pueblo Viejo by approximately 260,000 CO2 equivalent tons per year.

AES will be responsible for the construction of a new gas pipeline to the facility. The pipeline is planned to be commissioned in the second half of 2019.

Barrick said that it is currently advancing prefeasibility-level studies for a plant expansion at the Pueblo Viejo mine that has the potential to significantly increase throughput at the operation.