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TORONTO — Barrick Gold Corp. swung to a loss in the third quarter, but reported strong progress in reducing its mountain of debt and paring production costs as it grapples with a challenging market for precious metals.
The world’s largest gold producer said it lost $264-million (U.S.) or 23 cents a share in the quarter, largely as a result of writing down the carrying value of Zaldivar, its South American copper mine, by $452-million. Revenue was $2.32-billion.
The paper loss was outweighed by an impressive performance in reducing both costs and debt. Earnings excluding one-time items were 11 cents a share, beating the seven cents a share that analysts had expected.
“Overall, it was a very good quarter,” said Sid Subramani, an analyst at Veritas, an independent investment researcher in Toronto.
Barrick said on Wednesday that it has cut its total debt by 15 per cent so far this year and is on track to meet its aggressive target of chopping $3-billion from its $13.1-billion debt load by the end of 2015.
Much of the debt reduction has come from sales of non-core assets. In July, Barrick agreed to sell half of Zaldivar to Antofagasta PLC of Chile for $1-billion. It also unloaded mines in Australia and Papua New Guinea and struck a deal to sell some of the future gold and silver production from its Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic in exchange for $610-million now.
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