Barrick’s new CEO defends head-office job cuts as Randgold acquisition closes – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – January 3, 2019)

Barrick Gold Corp.’s new chief executive officer defended the company’s decision to lay off more than half of the staff at its Toronto head office before Christmas, saying it was a necessary move in a difficult market.

Barrick issued layoff notices to about 95 people at its headquarters in December, bringing its headcount down to about 65 people, The Globe and Mail reported on Dec. 21. In an interview, CEO Mark Bristow said there are no plans to shut the office entirely, adding that a continuing staff is needed to carry out treasury services, human resources and accounting.

In another sign of Barrick’s diminished presence in the country, the gold miner announced a revamped board of directors on which only one of nine members is Canadian. Leaving the board are Anthony Munk, son of Barrick founder Peter Munk; Toronto-based mining consultant Graham Clow; and Robert Prichard, who is chair of Bank of Montreal.

Another Canadian director, Nancy Lockhart, stepped down on the eve of Barrick’s US$6-billion acquisition of Randgold Resources Ltd. after voicing disagreement to the deal, which closed on Jan. 1. The sole Canadian left on Barrick’s board is Michael Evans, the president of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., who lives in New York.

In a phone interview from New York, Mr. Bristow said about the staff layoffs: “It’s a fact of rightsizing this organization. “It’s appropriate for a gold-mining company of this stature, in this industry, at this time, in the global economy.”

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