Canada's Barrick Gold Ltd (ABX.TO), the world's top gold producer, has closed its Kainantu mine in Papua New Guinea, local media reported on Thursday.

The move comes 13 months after Barrick purchased the mine from Australia-listed Highlands Pacific Ltd (HIG.AX) for $141.5 million in hopes of tapping more of the South Pacific island nation's vast undeveloped mineral wealth.

The mine, located in the eastern Highlands region and estimated to contain 5 million ounces of gold, was being placed on care and maintenance pending a view of its long-term viability, Papua New Guinea's Post Courier newspaper reported on its Web site.

Barrick officials in Port Moresby and Perth were not immediately available.

Sources familiar with the mine's operation said Barrick had long been disappointed with the low grading of the gold-bearing ore at the mine.

Also in Papua New Guinea, Barrick owns 95 percent of the Porgera gold mine, which yielded 487,000 ounces of gold for the company in 2007. (Reporting by James Regan)

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