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Mark Bristow, the CEO of one of many largest gold producers on this planet,
says that his firm is trying to develop its copper enterprise.
“Copper is the most strategic metal,” Bristow advised Barron’s. “Gold of course is precious.”
Copper is crucial to the electrification of the world within the coming a long time due to its superior conductive capabilities. Copper now generates about 20% of the earnings at Barrick (ticker: GOLD).
Bristow says Bristow is trying to purchase copper property and desires to concentrate on areas that some rivals discover forbidding. He factors to the corporate’s success in Zambia, the place Barrick operates a big copper mine, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the place it has an enormous gold mine.
“These are clearly countries where we have a competitive advantage over traditional copper miners from the Western world that are too scared to go to those countries,” he mentioned. “We are comfortable in the African environment.”
Bristow spoke to Barron’s after the corporate reported fourth-quarter financial results Wednesday. The CEO mentioned that the corporate was in its greatest form ever, with a beautiful group of mines on a number of continents, ample free money move, a robust stability sheet, and a strong manufacturing outlook. Buyers reacted favorably to the report. The inventory is up 22% this 12 months, closing Friday at $23.14.
He’s a hands-on supervisor who got here to Toronto-based Barrick in 2019, when the corporate merged with Randgold Assets, an African-focused gold miner that he headed.
Barrick goals to spice up its gold manufacturing to 4.8 million ounces yearly by the top of decade from 4.4 million in 2021 and a projected 4.2 million to 4.6 million this 12 months.
Regardless of that objective and its curiosity in copper, Bristow mentioned on the corporate’s earnings convention name that Barrick can be disciplined with acquisitions. “We talk a lot about M&A, but have done very little,” he mentioned.
There had been hypothesis that Barrick may merge with Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), one of many world’s largest copper producers. However with copper costs surging, Freeport is now 50% bigger in market worth than Barrick, which has a market cap of $41 billion.
Barrick and the bigger
(NEM), which produces greater than six million ounces of gold yearly, are rivals for trade management.
“Bigger is not always beautiful. We’re focused on quality,” Bristow advised Barron’s.
The corporate says it owns or has stakes in six of the ten prime gold mines on this planet—outlined as these with at the very least 500,000 ounces of annual manufacturing, a 10-year reserve life or extra and below-average prices globally
“If you’re going to run a world- class business, you have to be global and Barrick is global,” Bristow mentioned. “You can’t keep running back to the safe havens in the world. Some of the assets are not going to be in perfect addresses.”
Working in Africa, the growing world –and anyplace — means forging ties with political leaders and using native individuals on the mines and as managers, he mentioned.
Bristow hates the concept of dropping in expatriates to run mines. In Mali, the place Barrick operates a big gold mine, all of the managers are Malians.
“In every single country in which we operate, I know the leader of that country personally—except for the U.S. I can pick up the phone and call them or send them a WhatsApp or email and they will respond to me because we have built a relationship.”
Bristow, a swashbuckling South African who likes big-game looking, retains a punishing journey schedule, visiting every one in every of Barrick’s 17 world mines every quarter over a six-week interval.
“We start in North America and go to Africa and then Papua New Guinea and then to Argentina and Chile and up to the Dominican Republic and come back to Toronto for the quarterly” outcomes, he mentioned.
He needs Barrick’s administrators to see the operations and holds two board conferences a 12 months at a mine.
Barrick’s crown jewel is a 68.5% stake in a Nevada gold mining complicated wherein Newmont holds a 31.5% stake. The 2 corporations merged their adjoining operations within the state in 2019 after Barrick withdrew a hostile takeover provide for Newmont.
“Without a doubt, it’s a spectacular asset base with significant potential. It’s the biggest mining complex in the world,” Bristow mentioned, noting that it produces 3.5 million ounces of gold yearly. He mentioned that each corporations had “lost faith” within the mine earlier than the three way partnership. With “real geologists” introduced in subsequently to guage the ore physique, the manufacturing outlook now appears robust.
The mine is a serious employer in Nevada with 7,000 full-time workers and seven,000 contract staff. The whole payroll is $1 billion yearly with full-time workers incomes a mean of $90,000 a 12 months “excluding bonuses and extras,” Bristow says.
He mentioned these wages are a a number of of the common in Las Vegas the place the on line casino trade dominates.
Write to Andrew Bary at [email protected]