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Shareholders attend the Barrick Gold Corporation's annual general meeting in Toronto Wednesday, April 30, 2014.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Another rating agency downgraded Barrick Gold Corp.'s credit to one notch above junk status, citing the gold company's declining production and weak bullion prices.

DBRS acknowledged Barrick's efforts to reduce its $13-billion (U.S.) debt by $3-billion this year, but said it was not enough to offset the dire gold conditions.

"When the debt reduction is achieved, credit metrics should improve modestly," DBRS said in a statement. However, the rater said it "will not be sufficient to maintain" the higher rating.

The downgrade follows a similar move by Moody's Investors Service, which reduced Barrick's rating to the lowest investment grade level last week.

DBRS also changed its trend on Barrick to "stable" from "negative," saying the company was doing the work to bolster its finances.

The world's biggest gold producer has sold half a dozen gold mines as well as stakes in some of its best operations in order to reduce its debt. It is now in the process of selling a handful of its insignificant American mines, which will contribute to Barrick's shrinking production.

In addition to the asset sales, Barrick is planning to slash an additional $2-billion in expenses by the end of next year.

"Strengthening our balance sheet remains a key priority," said Barrick spokesman Andy Lloyd.

The downgrade from a second rating agency is a blow to Barrick, which has undertaken severe measures to reduce costs.

Most of Barrick's debt was incurred through an ill-timed copper acquisition along with cost overruns at its top gold project in the Andes.

The price of gold is trading around $1,100 an ounce, down 40 per cent over four years. That has made many mines unprofitable and underscored the need for companies to improve their operations.

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