Barrick mulls selling copper business as it faces lower production, higher costs – by Niall McGhee (Globe and Mail – February 16, 2018)

Barrick Gold Corp. is contemplating getting out of the copper business. President Kelvin Dushnisky said a sale of the copper assets is a possibility, although the company is not running a sales process at this time.

“Would we consider divestment in some point in time? Yes,” Mr. Dushnisky said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Barrick acquired its copper assets primarily through its US$7.3-billion purchase of Equinox Minerals Ltd. in 2011. The high-priced acquisition, timed shortly before a global slump in metals prices, proved to be a financial disaster, as Barrick wrote down the value of these assets by US$3.8-billion less than two years later.

Barrick’s move into copper irked some investors, who preferred the company’s pure focus on gold. Still, with copper prices near a three-year high, those assets have only grown in value lately.

Meanwhile, shares in Barrick slumped on Thursday, after the Toronto-based gold miner said it is facing a double whammy of lower gold production and higher costs over the next few years. The company’s forecast for gold production this year likely puts it on track to lose its crown as the world’s largest gold producer.

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