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Report on Business Kinross Gold cuts ties with two more executives as it eyes cost cuts

Kinross Gold Corp. is cutting ties with two more senior executives, weeks after it let go of its chief financial officer, as it focuses on cost cutting.

On Tuesday, Toronto-based Kinross said that chief operating officer Lauren Roberts and Gina Jardine, senior vice-president, human resources, are leaving the firm. Company spokesman Louie Diaz said that Kinross has no plans to replace either role.

In March, Kinross said it was parting ways with chief financial officer Tony Giardini. He will be replaced by Andrea Freeborough, vice-president, investor relations and corporate development.

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In a press release, Kinross said the latest staff reductions were motivated by the need to increase efficiency and better manage costs.

Kinross is considered to be among Canada’s highest-cost and worst-performing senior gold miners.

Mr. Roberts had been at the firm for 15 years and had held various senior roles, including senior vice-president of corporate development before being promoted to COO in January, 2017. Last year, he earned US$1.65-million in compensation.

Kinross said that chief technical officer Paul Tomory will assume some of the responsibilities held by Mr. Roberts and three other vice-presidents will also take on extra duties.

Recently, Kinross has been seen as a possible participant in the latest round of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the Canadian gold sector. In the past seven months, about US$18-billion worth of M&A have been unveiled.

Macquarie Capital Markets Canada Ltd. analyst Michael Siperco wrote in a note to clients last month that the pressure on companies such as Kinross “to bulk up to compete" may be increasing, considering the world’s two biggest gold miners, Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp., recently struck multibillion-dollar deals.

Earlier this year, The Globe and Mail reported that Kinross held talks with Iamgold Corp. last fall about a takeover, but no deal was reached. The Globe also reported that Kinross briefly engaged in merger discussions with intermediate gold miner Yamana Gold Inc. On Monday, Toronto-based Yamana announced the sale of its Chapada copper-gold mine in Brazil to Lundin Mining Corp. for about US$1-billion.

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Last year, Kinross produced 2.5 million ounces of gold, and operates mines in the United States, Brazil, Russia and Africa. The miner’s all-in sustaining costs (AISC), which measure most of the costs of mining, was US$965 an ounce last year and is expected to rise to US$995 an ounce this year.

Much of Kinross’s travails can be traced back to its US$7.1-billion acquisition of Red Back Mining Inc. in 2010, which was essentially a huge bet on a promising gold mine in Africa near the peak of the last gold bull market.

Over the years, Kinross has failed to fully exploit the Tasiast mine in Mauritania amid capital cost constraints, a floundering gold bullion price and struggles with the local government. The company recently hit the pause button on another planned expansion of the mine, as it attempts to reach an agreement with the Mauritanian government on the distribution of economic benefits from the mine. Kinross is also trying to line up financing for the venture.

Kinross has written down about 80 per cent of the value of the Red Back acquisition and Tye Burt who was chief executive at the time of the deal, has long since left the firm. Current CEO, Paul Rollinson, a former investment banker with Scotia Capital Markets, joined in 2012.

Shares in Kinross fell by 1 per cent on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange and have lost 80 per cent of their value since peaking in 2008.

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