The mine itself will only produce about 2,000 jobs but the company says about 11,000 workers were involved in the construction and there will be more than 10,000 jobs indirectly created by the project, company and government officials say.
"This is a major industrial achievement for the country," said Dominican Mining Director Octavio Lopez. "Imagine what this will do for our economy aside from the exploitation of the gold, with some 10,000 jobs, 83 percent of them for Dominicans."
If gold prices hold up, mining eventually will surpass tourism as the country's largest income earner, with royalties and other revenue making up about 5 percent of the government's budget.
The company will pay a 3.2 percent per ounce royalty on net sales after production begins, income taxes and a net profit tax of nearly 29 percent after it has recovered its investment plus 10 percent. The company projects it will contribute about $7 billion over the estimated 25-year life of the mine to the government, with 5 percent allocated for municipalities around the mine.
The company says that the environment around the mine has been the project's most immediate beneficiary. Barrick spent $4 million cleaning up discarded machinery, buildings constructed with asbestos and other debris left behind when Rosario shut down in 1999 after it reached a level of sulfide ore that it did not have the technology to profitably mine.
Much worse were the exposed mine pits and piles of discarded sulfide rock, which leached acid and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury into the watershed. Barrick's investment is paying to clean up the site, $75 million so far, and the company says it has stopped the toxic runoff from the main site and the red tint in local rivers is fading. Bonilla estimates it will take about a decade for the environment around the mine to fully recover.
"Our target 10 years from now is to see wildlife in these streams again, to see fish and other species back into these rivers," he said.
The company says its "world class environmental management system," has planted thousands of trees to prevent erosion and will rely on an autoclave technology for ore processing that will prevent the release of acid and other chemicals.
"The next four or five years are going to be very important because people are going to see us in operation, see the results of our operations, look at the waters, test the waters ... and see that things are actually improving," Bonilla said.
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