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Barrick Gold Corp. said executive chairman John Thornton, seen here on April 25, 2017, earned US$12.8-million last year, a two-thirds increase compared with the US$7.7-million he made in 2017.Chris Helgren/Reuters

Barrick Gold Corp.’s top executive saw his pay package surge in 2018 – a lacklustre year for shareholders that saw the miner strike its biggest acquisition in seven years.

In a regulatory document released on Friday, Barrick said executive chairman John Thornton earned US$12.8-million last year, a two-thirds increase compared with the US$7.7-million he made in 2017.

The bulk of Mr. Thornton’s compensation was a US$9.7-million long-term incentive payment, the majority of which must be put toward share purchases. That stock must then be held by Mr. Thornton until he leaves the company and the minimum holding period is three years.

In the Friday release, Barrick’s lead director, J. Brett Harvey, singled out Mr. Thornton’s contributions in negotiating the firm’s US$6-billion zero-premium acquisition of Randgold Resources Ltd. last year. While Barrick shares rallied strongly after the Randgold deal was announced in September, they fell by 3 per cent over the course of the entire year. Among the company’s troubles in 2018 was a continuing gold-concentrate export ban on its subsidiary Acacia Mining PLC and a flat gold price.

Barrick will hold its annual meeting on May 7 in Toronto, where shareholders will have the opportunity to weigh in on executive pay.

Barrick has lost a number of non-binding “say-on-pay" votes in light of excessive compensation paid to Mr. Thornton in the past six years. Shareholders at the 2013 meeting decried the US$11.9-million signing bonus he had earned in 2012. Two years later, Barrick lost another say-on-pay vote, after Mr. Thornton earned US$12.9-million in a year the stock lost about one-third of its value.

Investors will have to wait until about a year from now to find out what Barrick’s new chief executive, Mark Bristow, will earn in compensation. Late last year, Barrick said he stands to earn as much as US$18-million subject to performance measures being met. Mr. Bristow was the founder and CEO of Randgold.

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