Barrick Gold chair lashes out at mining ‘industry disease,’ doubles down on his strategy – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – August 11, 2018)

John Thornton, a latecomer to the industry who lives in an $81-million Florida villa, is facing a test to his leadership as investors lose confidence

With Barrick Gold Corp. about to lose its title as world’s largest gold producer, and its stock nearing a low-point for the year, executive chairman John Thornton called a town-hall meeting this week to insist his strategy is working and the rest of the industry has it wrong.

Describing it an “industry disease,” Thornton lambasted his rivals, bankers, researchers, shareholders and others who value growth in production over growth in profits, according to a partial transcript that Barrick posted on its website on Thursday evening.

“The whole industry gets itself into a bad habit,” he said. “It’s kind of an echo chamber, and they encourage each other towards what I would call bad behaviour. They don’t see it that way, but I see it that way.”

Thornton, 64, a latecomer to the mining industry who resides in an $81.5 million limestone villa in Palm Beach, Fla., joined Toronto-based Barrick as co-chairman in 2012 after a previous career as a president at Goldman Sachs, where he spent time in Asia.

Now, he is facing a leadership test: Since eliminating the role of a chief executive officer in 2014, Thornton has been at the helm of the company as its executive chairman. And the company is struggling to gain investor confidence, with its stock on Friday trading at $10.86, down 41 per cent from its 52-week high of $18.35.

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