In the first year since its merger with Randgold Resources, the restructured and refocused Barrick Gold Corporation has delivered a strong operational performance and made significant progress towards its goal of becoming the world’s most valued gold company, it says in its 2019 Annual Report published.
President and chief executive Mark Bristow says in the report that Barrick’s new leadership started 2019 with a long and challenging to-do list and succeeded in ticking all the boxes.
Highlights included gold production at the top end of the guidance range; copper production which exceeded its forecast; the consummation of the Nevada Gold Mines joint venture, majority-owned and operated by Barrick; the consolidation of the Tanzanian mines; and the disposal of some non-core assets.
Net of depletion, proven and probable reserves increased year-over-year at a higher grade. Net earnings per share were $2.26 for 2019, adjusted net earnings rose by 46%1, net debt was halved to $2.2 billion and the quarterly dividend was increased three times during the year.
Behind the scenes, the corporate structure was flattened, general and administrative costs were reduced, executive management teams were established for each region, and responsibility for the orebodies was moved back to the operations.
A strong geological and mineral resource management capacity was introduced throughout the organization to ensure the optimization of existing assets.
“The work we did in 2019 has equipped us well to take Barrick to the next level,” says Bristow.
“We stand on the strong foundation of our enormous organic growth potential, which will support a positive production profile and a very robust business, capable of generating a substantial cash flow for at least the next decade.
“There are also opportunities for growth outside our current ambit which we continue to explore.”
Included in the report is Barrick’s 10-year production plan, which showcases a modern gold mining business capable of sustainably producing around five million ounces of gold per year and delivering significant free cash flow.
Bristow notes that during the past year environmental, social and governance (ESG) management had become a key investment criterion and is now generally accepted as a critical measure of the sustainability of a business.
“The principles of ESG have long been embedded in the DNA of both legacy companies. Our long-term strategy recognizes that we operate in a changing world where business is expected to meet the highest standards of behavior, and where ethical issues have become commercial considerations with serious consequences. We call this our social license and it is a core part of all our operations,” he says.
“Barrick is also intent on being at the leading edge of digitalization and automation in the mining industry, and trials and projects designed to make our operations more efficient as well as safer are driving the increased use of technology across the group.”
Also in the annual report, executive chairman John Thornton notes that since the year-end, Barrick has been pro-active in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, which he termed “a global disaster which is changing the way we work and live in a radically disruptive process with currently no clear end in sight”.
“Barrick is fully engaged in managing the impact of COVID-19 on our business and our people, and emergency response measures have been rolled out at all our sites and operations.
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“Our new leadership’s experience in managing pandemics and major crises, combined with Barrick’s financial muscle and its long-established culture of caring for the welfare of its employees and communities, have placed us in a strong position to contend with this challenge,” he says.