Skip to main content

Barrick Gold Corp. is selling its Massawa gold project in Senegal for up to US$430-million to West African junior producer Teranga Gold Corp., as part of its push to shed assets that don’t move the financial needle.

After buying African-focused Randgold Resources Ltd. earlier this year for US$6-billion, Toronto-based Barrick has been ridding itself of anything it deems too small, or not sufficiently profitable.

In the past month alone, Barrick has sold US$1.2-billion in assets, or about 80 per cent of what it hopes to achieve by the end of next year.

Teranga, which is also based in Toronto, will pay Barrick US$380-million upfront for Massawa, consisting of US$300-million in cash and US$80-million in stock. Barrick may receive an additional US$50-million in cash from Teranga over the next three years, if gold hits certain levels.

Teranga is funding the acquisition of Barrick’s Massawa project through a combination of fresh debt and equity financings, including a US$106-million common share bought deal, which quickly sold out on Tuesday.

“It was well oversubscribed,” said Richard Young, chief executive of Teranga of the bought deal, one of the biggest mining financings in Canada this year.

In a bought deal, underwriters agree to acquire stock at a discount to the market value, and then flip it quickly to investors in return for a commission.

While the Massawa gold project isn’t big enough to make a material impact for Barrick, with 2.6-million ounces of gold in reserves it could be an important source of future growth at Teranga.

Teranga plans to integrate Massawa into its existing gold complex at Sabodala in Senegal. Since Sabodala is only 25 kilometres from Massawa, the sites can share common processing facilities.

The ore at Massawa is higher grade than Teranga’s existing reserves, meaning the company’s overall costs should fall. The mine life at Sabodala will also be pushed out to as much as 18 years, from the current 13.

Teranga plans to spend about $10-million to bring Massawa into production next year, and a further $20-million on modifications to the mill over time.

Shares in Teranga surged 10 per cent on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange to $6.19.

One of next things on Barrick’s to-do list is the sale of its Lumwana copper mine in Zambia.

In an interview on Tuesday, Mark Bristow, Barrick’s CEO, said he has fielded lots of queries from interested parties. But he declined to comment on reports that a number of Chinese miners, including China Minmetals, Jiangxi Copper and Zijin Mining were in the running for Lumwana.

As for making its own acquisitions, Mr. Bristow said that he’d love to beef up Barrick’s presence in Canada. This year, the company has looked at buying various junior Canadian miners and exploration assets but hasn’t pulled the trigger yet. He also said he’s itching to do something big in Canada.

“It would be great for me to able to be able to deliver some sort of real asset in Canada for us as Barrick, given the history,” he said.

Earlier in the year, Mr. Bristow expressed interest in potentially buying Vancouver-based Pretium Resources Inc. But on Tuesday, he hinted he wasn’t as keen any more.

“It’s not a perfect business. It has its challenges,” Mr. Bristow said of Pretium.

After a period of relative calm, deal making in the Canadian gold sector has taken off again in the past few weeks. Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. announced the acquisition of Detour Gold Corp. for $4.9-billion late last month. Soon after, China’s Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. said it was buying Canada’s Continental Gold Inc. for $1.4-billion.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.