Barrick sees drop in gold production ahead, putting its No. 1 spot at risk – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – February 15, 2018)

Barrick Gold Corp. is on track to lose its long-held crown as the world’s largest gold producer after forecasting production for this year that will likely fall short of U.S. competitor Newmont Mining Corp.

In a release announcing its fourth-quarter results after the markets closed on Wednesday, Toronto-based Barrick said it expects to produce between 4.5 million to 5 million ounces of gold in 2018. In December, Newmont predicted that its 2018 gold production will be between 4.9 million to 5.4 million ounces.

While Colorado-based Newmont had already passed Barrick in terms of market capitalization, it had lagged Barrick in production.

In 2006, Barrick became the biggest producer of gold after it closed the acquisition of fellow Canadian miner Placer Dome Inc. But over the past few years, Barrick has been increasingly focused on profitable mining through generating free cash flow, as opposed to being the top dog in production. It’s a strategy that has seen it sell much of its portfolio of high-cost, non-core mines.

Barrick has also been focusing on getting a handle on its previous, punishingly high debt load, incurred in part through a failed copper acquisition and by funnelling billions of dollars into developing a South American mine that has yet to produce an ounce of gold, and is now in limbo.

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