Barrick Gold Corp. is planning to sell its 50-per-cent share in the Kalgoorlie mine in Australia and has identified two Australian companies as possible buyers.
“There’s a lot of very interested parties in that asset, whether it’s Northern Star or Evolution [Mining]. Those mid-cap Aussie guys are doing extremely well," Barrick CEO Mark Bristow said in an interview after the release of the company’s second-quarter results on Monday.
Neither Northern Star nor Evolution responded to a request for comment.
After Barrick bought Randgold Resources Ltd. for US$6-billion earlier this year, the company said it intended to divest about US$1.5-billion in assets to concentrate on its highest-returning assets, such as its mines in Nevada and its massive Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic, which needs about US$1-billion in capital expenditure over the next few years.
Kalgoorlie, in western Australia, is on track to produce about 270,000 ounces of gold this year. In the second quarter, its all-in sustaining cost was US$1,204 an ounce, making it among Barrick’s highest-cost mines. Barrick co-owns the asset alongside Nevada-based Newmont Goldcorp Corp., the world’s biggest gold producer. Newmont is the operator, meaning Barrick has little influence in running the mine. Mr. Bristow said Barrick would rather concentrate on assets over which it has full control rather than being a passive investor.
Barrick has also discussed selling its share of Kalgoorlie to Newmont, but Mr. Bristow said Newmont has indicated it intends to keep its options open. Newmont may end up selling its stake as well if an attractive offer materializes for 100 per cent of the asset, he added.
“We would consider transactions to consolidate or divest our interest in [Kalgoorlie] under the right valuation terms. Beyond that we are not able to speculate,” Newmont spokesman Omar Jabara wrote in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail on Monday.
Mr. Bristow also said on Monday that Barrick was prepared to sell its Massawa gold development project in Senegal or team up with another company to develop the site. As a demonstration of his faith in the asset, he said Barrick would be willing to take equity for Massawa if a buyer were to emerge. He named Toronto-based Teranga Gold Corp. and Australia-based Resolute Mining as parties that may be interested in “working with us” on Massawa.
“If Barrick ultimately decides to divest its assets in Senegal, we would take a look at it, as there could be operating synergies with our flagship Sabodala gold mine,” Teranga CEO Richard Young said in an e-mail to The Globe. “However, we would be very price sensitive given our current valuation.”
Resolute did not respond to a request for comment.
For the quarter ended June 30, Barrick reported a net profit of US$194-million, compared with a US$94-million loss in the same quarter in 2018. On an adjusted basis, the company reported earnings per share of US$0.09, in line with analysts’ expectations.
Last month, Barrick reached an agreement to acquire the 36.1 per cent of Acacia Mining PLC that it doesn’t already own for US$428-million, paving the way for an end to a geopolitical spat that had engulfed the London-based miner for more than two years.
In 2017, the Tanzanian government accused Acacia of US$200-billion in tax fraud and banned it from exporting gold concentrate, sidelining much of its production. In the aftermath, Tanzania refused to even negotiate with Acacia to end the fracas, with Barrick – as its biggest shareholder – leading the negotiations.
On Monday Mr. Bristow said there is still a “great deal of work to be done” to rebuild relations with local stakeholders in Tanzania, as Barrick tries to get a handle on Acacia’s operations. Barrick is also working to implement the terms of a previously announced tentative agreement to end the tax dispute. It plans to pay a US$300-million fine to Tanzania and has agreed to a profit-sharing plan with the Tanzanian government pertaining to Acacia’s three mines in the country. For now, though, Acacia’s operations remain idled for the most part.
Acacia announced on Monday that Tanzania has allowed it to resume gold shipments from its North Mara mine, but actual mining remains on hold after the site’s tailings dam was shut down in July following allegations of environmental breaches.
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