A tough-talking South African on a mission to shake up the mining industry. For years the name that would have sprung to mind was Glencore boss Ivan Glasenberg, but not any more. The sector has another swashbuckling executive to watch: Mark Bristow, head of Barrick Gold.
Since the geologist took control of the world’s second-biggest gold miner just over a year ago he has been a whirlwind of activity. Highlights of the past 12 months include a hostile bid for its arch rival — now a partner in a joint venture — a buyout of struggling subsidiary Acacia Mining and more than $1bn of asset sales.
But this is just the beginning for 61-year-old Mr Bristow, an adrenalin junkie who enjoys big game hunting and flying planes. “It has been an amazing year,” he said during a wide-ranging interview. “We now have a solid foundation to build on and probably the strongest balance sheet in the gold industry.”
The market is buzzing with speculation about Mr Bristow’s next move, with Freeport-McMoRan, owner of the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia, regarded as a potential takeover target.
Mr Bristow recently described copper as a “strategic metal” because of the role it would play in the shift to a greener economy. “The new, big gold mines are going to come out of the young geologies of the world,” he said. “And in young rocks, gold comes in association with copper or vice versa.”
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