Despite the challenges posed by the global Covid-19 pandemic, Barrick Gold has emerged even stronger and made significant progress towards becoming the world’s most valued gold company since its transformational merger with Randgold Resources only two years ago.
Led by President and CEO Mark Bristow, the Barrick team built on 2019’s excellent performance by capitalizing fully on the higher gold price, delivering on the company’s production guidance, and ending 2020 with one of the industry’s strongest balance sheets.
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Barrick increased the quarterly dividend three-fold since the announcement of the merger in September 2018 and proposes to return $750 million in surplus funds to shareholders through a return of capital over the course of 2021, as described in the Information Circular.
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Bristow said a company that was burdened by net debt of more than $13 billion as recently as 2013 now had zero net debt, no significant maturities for the next 10 years and a robust balance sheet, with strong liquidity consisting of $5.2 billion in cash and an undrawn $3 billion credit facility.
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“Efficient operations and effective management enabled us to capitalize fully on the higher gold and copper prices and to pass the rewards on to our investors as well as our community stakeholders. These achievements were produced on the foundation of a solid 10-year plan built on a great asset base, a fit-for-purpose structure and management teams that more than lived up to our ‘best people’ mantra,” he said.
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In the Information Circular, Lead Independent Director Brett Harvey emphasized that the Board believes good corporate governance is foundational to Barrick’s long-term success and that the Board’s work is guided by three core principles: stakeholder engagement, feedback from fellow owners, and applying rigorous oversight to each aspect of the business including pandemic-related risks.
The Board was closely involved with Barrick’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and effectively managed and mitigated the impact of the pandemic on Barrick’s people, business, and communities. Operating responsibly, however, is not something new for Barrick. Barrick has set the sustainability standard for the industry as the first mining company to publish a Sustainability Scorecard as part of its annual sustainability report last April.
The Information Circular also highlights Board renewal and an increase in diversity including gender diversity since the merger. During these two years Barrick has added two new Directors to the Board of ten.
They are highly qualified women who were identified through a rigorous search and selection process overseen by the Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee: Ms Loreto Silva, who has significant expertise in large-scale infrastructure projects and wide-ranging experience in legal and government affairs with a specific focus on South America; and Ms Anne Kabagambe, whose perspective on doing business internationally is informed by her experience in engaging with governments, the private sector and civil society as well as her knowledge of the global resource, banking, and education sectors through her previous role as an Executive Director of the World Bank representing the interests of 22 Sub-Saharan African countries.
In addition, the Board has approved amendments to Barrick’s Diversity Policy to include an aspirational target for women to represent at least 30% of directors by the end of 2022. The Information Circular notes that the Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee is currently searching for an additional compelling and qualified female candidate to appoint to the Board.
The Information Circular also highlights Barrick’s executive compensation policies and programs, noting that they are designed to reward sustained, industry-leading performance delivery and to drive accountability through share ownership: as meaningful shareholders, the executive team is focused on and invested in Barrick’s long-term value creation.
Barrick’s cornerstone Performance Granted Share Unit (PGSU) Plan was updated to accelerate employee share ownership through a phased vesting schedule and to provide access to awards, subject to the achievement of market-leading performance requirements. To reinforce Barrick’s commitment to maintaining market-leading share ownership requirements, Barrick’s partners are now required to hold at least 50% of their minimum share ownership requirement in actual Barrick shares.
In addition, 25% of all PGSU awards have been linked to Barrick’s sustainability performance, as assessed by its industry-leading Sustainability Scorecard, and 10% to the evolution of the company’s human capital strategy.