A few years ago that would have been unimaginable. The world’s largest gold producer at the time, Barrick Gold, had to deal with a variety of problems. The beacon of hope, the huge Pascua Lama project in Argentine-Chilean had to be put on ice, the debt rose and some already suspected that Barrick Gold could go bankrupt. But today Barrick Gold is emerging stronger from this crisis. “Barrick Gold will reduce net debt to 0 by year end,” said CEO Mark Bristow.
“We now definitely have enough firepower to build a new mine or participate in a transaction,” says Bristow. This should finally be clear: Barrick Gold is back on the stage of the companies that are currently actively consolidating the industry. In the past few weeks, a name has repeatedly appeared: Freeport McMoRan. Bristow even brought the name of the copper producer into play. But there are currently no merger talks. At the moment, Barrick is rather reducing its copper exposure. The Lumwana copper mine in Zambia is for sale and Barrick is said to have some prospects. Most of the interest should come from China. No wonder, since China is the largest copper consumer with around 40 percent of the world market.
Barrick has a long-term gold strategy, but not one for copper. What initially sounds like a rejection of expansion plans in the copper sector is immediately restricted by Markt Bristow. “If we want to be a relevant organization with a focus on gold, we have to reach out for copper.” And Freeport McMoRan is the purest of all copper producers. With this, Markt Bristow seems to want to keep the door open sooner or later in negotiations with Freeport McMoRan without having misled the market.