CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Barrick Gold is not looking to merge with copper miner Freeport-McMoran, CEO Mark Bristow said on Thursday, although he is interested in the company’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia, and indicated he wants to expand in the Pacific Rim.
Rumors the world’s second-largest gold miner planned to combine with Freeport are “completely wrong”, Bristow told Reuters on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town.
But he said he was interested in Freeport’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia – the world’s largest gold mine, and second-largest copper mine. “People say, are you interested in Grasberg? I say I have to be, it’s a tier one asset,” he said. Tier one assets refer to high-grade, long-life mines.
The CEO wants to grow Barrick’s copper business to capitalize on a projected increase in demand because of the rising popularity of electric vehicles.
“If you’re going to be a world-class gold miner, you’re going to have to accept copper. In ten years’ time the most strategic metal on this planet is copper, if you believe the EV story, and I do,” said Bristow.