Barrick hit by criminal gang

African Barrick Gold yesterday slashed its 2010 production target for the second time in three months after claiming it had discovered alleged fuel theft at its new Buzwagi mine, sending its shares down.

The company said it discovered a criminal syndicate had infiltrated the open-cast pit and was allegedly stealing fuel there. It has suspended 60 employees and contractors, about 40 per cent of the mining staff at the mine.

The suspension meant another delay in accessing the high-grade areas of Buzwagi, cutting 10,000 ounces from the mine’s third-quarter output and about 30,000 ounces from full-year production.

The group had reduced its previous target in July from an original estimate of 800,000-850,000 ounces due to delays in accessing higher-grade ores from Buzwagi.

The arm of the world’s biggest gold producer, Barrick Gold Corp, said it now expected full-year production to be similar to last year’s 716,000 ounces.

Shares in the group fell nearly a tenth, or 59.5p, to 564p. The shares have shed nearly a fifth of their value since peaking in June.