Standard & Poor's changed its outlook on Kinross Gold Corp. to negative, putting the Canadian miner's debt in danger of junk status.
The rater said Kinross' position was weakening, as a result of lower gold reserves and more exposure to the politically risky Russia, where the company's best mines are located.
Although Standard & Poor's kept Kinross at the lowest investment grade rating, the negative outlook means Kinross' debt could be downgraded to junk if its position weakens further, according to the rater.
Kinross said the investment grade rating "underscores the company's strong balance sheet and ability to meet its debt obligations."
The company is under pressure to diversify its operations. A third of its production comes from Russia, which has locked horns with the West for its aggression in the Ukraine. As a result, the miner's stock has suffered more than its peers, which are also dealing with the prolonged slump in bullion prices.
"It is important to note that our operations in Russia remain unaffected by the situation in Ukraine and we believe that they will continue to be unaffected," a Kinross spokeswoman said.
S&P said it could change its outlook back to stable from negative if Kinross is able to replenish reserves, cut costs and diversify its operations.
Kinross has been looking at potential acquisitions and is in the running for AngloGold Ashanti's gold mine in Colorado, sources have said.