Zijin Mining, Shandong Gold in talks to buy Barrick's stake in Argentinean gold mine

China's Zijin Mining Group and Shandong Gold Mining are in separate talks to buy a 50 per cent stake in Barrick Gold's Veladero gold mine in Argentina, Reuters yesterday reported, citing four sources with knowledge of the process.

Barrick Gold has not launched a formal sale process for Veladero, but a potential sale of its stake could fetch more than $1 billion, the report said.

The move comes a year after Barrick sold its 50 per cent stake in the Zaldivar copper mine in Chile, to Antofagasta Plc for $1 billion.

The Veladero mine is located in the San Juan Province of Argentina in the highly prospective Frontera District.

Proven and probable mineral reserves at Veladero were 7.5 million ounces of gold (276.9 million tonnes) and produced 602,000 ounces of gold last year. Gold production in 2016 is expected to be 580,000-640,000 ounces.

Last month, the provincial government temporarily suspended operations at the Veladero mine for two weeks after a ''small quantity'' of processing solution that contained cyanide leaked outside a processing area.

Toronto-based Barrick Gold is the world's largest gold mining company, with projects in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Saudi Arabia, the US and Zambia.

More than 75 per cent of its annual gold production comes from the Americas region and its five core mines in the Americas are expected to account for about 70 per cent of its total production.