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Barrick Gold Corp ABX-T said on Thursday first-quarter gold production fell 15 per cent sequentially, as a harsh winter hampered the Canadian miner’s operations in northern Nevada and annual maintenance weighed on output at its Goldstrike mine.

Barrick’s gold output has been on a steady decline, falling for at least three consecutive years.

But the company said on Thursday it expects gold production to increase through the year, with the first quarter being the lowest. Copper production is expected to be higher in the second half of the year.

Gold output at Carlin took a hit from annual maintenance, resulting in lower throughput at Goldstrike mine in the mining district, Barrick said.

Gold’s all-in sustaining costs (AISC), a key industry metric that reflects total expenses, are expected to be 9 per cent to 11 per cent higher from the prior quarter on lower sales volumes.

AISC for copper, however, is expected to be down 14 per cent to 16 per cent due to lower sustaining capital expenditures.

Barrick’s total preliminary gold output was 952,000 ounces in the three months ended March 31, compared with 1.1 million ounces in the previous quarter.

Analysts on an average expected gold production of 988.7 million ounces, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The Toronto, Ontario-based firm’s copper production was 88 million pounds during the quarter, down 8.3 per cent from the previous three months, weighed down by lower output at its Lumwana mine in Zambia and Zaldívar mine in Chile.

Gold prices rose 7.9 per cent during the January-March period, after a 9.9 per cent increase in the previous quarter, as recent volatility in the banking sector spurred a rush toward the safe haven.

Barrick, scheduled to release its first-quarter results on May 3, said the average market price for gold in the period was $1,890 per ounce, up from $1,726 per ounce in the prior three months.

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