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Barrick Gold Corp. plans to sell part of its prized Chilean copper mine, in a move to reduce its $13-billion (U.S.) debt burden. The partial sale of Zalidvar will crimp Barrick’s cash flow at a time when it is dealing with a slump in copper and gold prices.
But Zaldivar, which used to be called the Andean ATM because it generated so much cash, is expected to attract top bids and help Barrick strengthen its finances under a revitalization plan laid out by chairman John Thornton.
“Potential buyers have expressed a strong interest,” Barrick said in a statement announcing its quarterly results.
The world’s biggest gold producer plans to cut its debt by $3-billion this year and said “no priority is more important than restoring our balance sheet.” The Toronto company has already put its Australian and Papua New Guinea mines up for sale. The partial sale of Zaldivar is a major step away from the copper business for Barrick.
The miner had tried to diversify further into copper with its ill-timed $7-billion acquisition of copper company Equinox Minerals, a purchase that it has written down completely and helped create Barrick’s debt problems.
However, even as Barrick works on the sale of Zaldivar, the Canadian miner said it was teaming up with privately-held Quantum Pacific Exploration to explore for copper in northern Chile.
Since Mr. Thornton joined Barrick, he has talked about forming so-called strategic partnerships with China and others.
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