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Barrick engineers and technicians look over the Pueblo Viejo mine project in Los Cacaos, Dominican Republic.Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press

Miner Barrick Gold Corp. said on Thursday its fourth-quarter gold production rose 4.4 per cent from the previous quarter, partly owing to higher output at its Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic.

Gold prices touched record highs in 2020, as investors flocked to the safe haven asset while the COVID-19 pandemic roiled the markets. In the fourth quarter, market prices averaged US$1,875 per ounce, 26.4 per cent higher than a year earlier.

Total preliminary gold production rose to 1.21 million ounces in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from 1.16 million ounces in the previous quarter.

Output at the Pueblo Viejo rose 23.26 per cent to 159,000 ounces of gold. Fourth-quarter output also got a boost from the ramp-up of operations at Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and continuing improvement at Turquoise Ridge in Nevada.

Barrick, scheduled to report fourth-quarter results on Feb. 18, said it expects all-in sustaining costs for gold, a key industry metric, to decrease 3 per cent to 5 per cent compared with third quarter.

Copper production also rose 15.5 per cent to 119 million pounds, as plant maintenance at Lumwana in Zambia was completed in the third quarter. All-in sustaining costs per pound of copper were expected to be 4 per cent to 6 per cent higher than third quarter.

Shares of the company rose as much as 1.4 per cent in early trading. They were trading up 0.6 per cent at $23.73 at 9:54 AM ET.

The company’s preliminary full-year gold production of 4.8 million ounces and 457 million pounds of copper production fell within the range it had earlier forecast.

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