Currently viewing Global edition

Barrick to focus on Americas

The world’s biggest gold miner by production Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) said it planned to focus on long-life assets in the Americas as it unveiled a slight increase in adjusted net earnings for the first quarter.
Barrick to focus on Americas Barrick to focus on Americas Barrick to focus on Americas Barrick to focus on Americas Barrick to focus on Americas

Not planning asset sales to reduce debt

Staff reporter

"Our priorities for 2018 are focused on positioning Barrick to grow free cash flow per share over the long term from a portfolio of high-quality, long-life gold assets in the Americas, with an increasing focus on organic growth in Nevada and the Dominican Republic," the company said.

The Toronto-based miner was planning to use cash flow and cash on hand, not asset sales, to reduce its total debt from $6.4 billion to about $5 billion by the end of the year.

However it said any proceeds from "additional portfolio optimisation" would be reinvested to enhance the project pipeline or returned to shareholders.

Twelve months ago, Barrick sold major stakes in two of its South American assets.

Last March, it sold a quarter of its Cerro Casale project in Chile to Goldcorp in a deal worth $260 million and in April sold half of its Veladero gold mine in Argentina to Shandong Gold Mining for $960 million.

Barrick said the slight increase in adjusted net earnings per share to 15c, and the $20 million increase in free cash flow to $181 million compared with the previous corresponding period, was due mainly to higher gold prices and lower depreciation.

The miner produced 1.05 million ounces of gold in the first quarter at an all-in sustaining cost of US$804 an ounce, and 85 million pounds of copper at an AISC of $2.61 per pound.

It expected second quarter gold production to be similar to the first, around 1Moz, due to a scheduled maintenance shutdown at the Barrick Nevada roaster.

It kept 2018 guidance unchanged at 4.5-5Moz at an AISC of $765-$815/oz, and 385-450Mlb of copper at $2.30-$2.60/lb, although it is still evaluating the impact of a February earthquake at its Porgera joint venture in Papua New Guinea.

The Porgera processing plant is operating at 25% capacity and is expected to return to full capacity by the fourth quarter.

Barrick noted it had reduced its total debt by more than 50% in three years and pointed out both S&P Global Ratings and Moody's Investors Service had upgraded its credit rating, citing significant improvements in free cash flow generation and liquidity, supported by the company's low-cost portfolio and favourable geopolitical risk profile.

Finally, Barrick said its discussions with Tanzania for a proposed framework for its majority-owned Acacia Mining's operations were "constructive" and progressing.

It expected to complete a detailed proposal, for review by Acacia, by mid-year which would split Acacia's economic benefits with the government on a 50/50 basis.

Barrick's results were released after market close yesterday where its shares had finished about 1% lower at C$16.58.