At Barrick Gold Corp., management has decided $3-billion isn't enough.
Earlier this year, the miner set a goal to slash its debt load by this amount, mostly with cash that would come from selling off assets. Success came quickly. Although it's only August, the company's almost there, raising about 90 per cent of what it wanted.
Instead of basking in its accomplishment, management is now moving the yard sticks.
In a bid to raise even more money, Barrick put six more projects in Montana and Nevada on the auction block. Management wants the cash from these sales as soon as possible. On a conference call Thursday, co-president Kelvin Dushnisky said he hopes to have the sales wrapped up by year-end.
Asked whether all the projects will be sold as a single basket or split up, Mr. Dushnisky left all options open, saying the company is "open-minded." The sale process hasn't started yet, so Barrick has no indications as to what potential buyers would prefer – but he added that Barrick already received multiple expressions of interest before it even announced the projects were for sale.
The projects up for grabs – Bald Mountain, Barrick's 50-per-cent interest in Round Mountain, the miner's 70-per-cent stake in Spring Valley, Ruby Hill, Hilltop and Golden Sunlight – have all been labelled 'non-core' by the miner. Recently, Barrick reviewed its entire portfolio and labelled only five mines as core to its future – combined they account for 60 per cent of its current production – then put out the word it is open to ideas on the others.
Last week, Barrick sold a 50-per-cent stake in its Zaldivar copper mine to Antofagasta. Asked on the call why the company held on to half of it, considering its now selling more assets to raise cash and Zaldivar was labelled non-core, Mr. Dushnisky said it was a conscious decision. He wanted to keep some "exposure to a strong cash-generating operation."
Once Barrick has a better grasp of how much cash it will have in total, the miner will launch a debt tender offer similar to the one it executed in late 2013 after raising equity to pay back debt.
Barrick also disclosed Thursday it has stress tested its financial models to predict what the miner would need to do if the price of gold fell to $900 (U.S.) per ounce.
"We don't expect gold to reach $900 an ounce but if it does, we know what we need to do," co-president Jim Gowans said on the call. "This may involve partial or full suspensions of non-core minds, further head-count reductions and raising cutoff grades or processing higher grade stockpiles at operations."