Barrick Gold Corp. has hammered out a new profit-sharing agreement with the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government for its Porgera gold mine in which it makes major concessions in return for being able to restart operations after a year-long shutdown.
Under the pact announced on Friday, PNG’s ownership in Porgera will rise to 51 per cent from 5 per cent. Barrick and China’s Zijin Mining Group Ltd., which previously owned a combined 95 per cent stake, will see their shares fall to a combined 49 per cent. Toronto-based Barrick, the operator of the mine, will front the entire cost of reopening the site.
John Ing, analyst with Maison Placements Canada Inc., said while the new ownership agreement appears “draconian” at first sight for Barrick, being able to reopen the mine again at a time when the price of gold is elevated is a big positive.
“Before it was adversarial, now there’s a working arrangement,” he said. “Part of a loaf is better than no loaf.”
In a note to clients, Josh Wolfson, analyst with RBC Dominion Securities Inc., said while the impact of the agreement was “mixed,” for Barrick, it brings “improved clarity to the mine’s prior highly uncertain outlook.”