Barrick CEO’s willingness to hazard risky districts an advantage asset hunt

Mark Bristow, CEO, Barrick Gold

MARK Bristow’s willingness to step into riskier parts of the world would be an advantage as the company he leads Barrick Gold chases down copper assets, said Bloomberg News.

Commenting on Barrick’s recent approach to copper producer First Quantum Minerals, the newswire said Bristow had “cultivated a reputation for building gold mines across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Mali” while at Randgold, the company he founded and subsequently merged with Barrick in 2019.

Analysts said Barrick’s approach to First Quantum was difficult to reconcile with Bristow’s comments about not wanting to pay major deal premiums. But Bristow has tried before to pull off copper deals: he approached Freeport-McMoRan Inc about a possible combination before later saying the chances of the deal were small after a rise in the metal’s price.

Bristow has said before that gold producers are not relevant unless they are in the hunt for copper, a metal that occurs with gold geologically. “As a gold miner, you’re going to have to grow and include copper in your portfolio,” he said in a recent earnings call.

But he has also stressed that at core Barrick remains a gold producer, Bloomberg News said. Gold production has fallen to its lowest level since 2000 while its shares are about 5% down this year, the newswire said.

Newmont’s takeover of Newcrest Mining would cement its position as the world’s top gold miner, said Bloomberg News. The only metal output that has increased at Barrick since the Randgold merger is copper, it added.