The Mining Minds podcast crew recently went to the Nevada Gold Mines offices in Elko to visit with Mark Bristow, the president and chief executive office of Barrick Gold Corp. Barrick is the operator and 61.5% owner of Nevada Gold Mines, and Newmont owns 38.5%.
Bristow took the podcast listeners on a journey through his life story and the challenges and successes along the way. He grew up in South Africa and was always involved in sports and athletics – “I’ve run more than 200 standard marathons.” There were a lot of political changes going on in the country. He was conscripted into the military at the peak of apartheid.
“South Africa was a very dynamic place as I grew up,” Bristow said. In college he started out in agriculture but “I picked up geology as sort of a filler” – setting him on a new trajectory. He joined Rand Mines in 1986, and his experience gave him a vision of how mining companies should be managed.
“Rand Mines’ head office was 16 stories high. … I have a real aversion to head offices. That’s where I got it from.” In 1992 Rand Mines split into several companies, and Barrick joined Randgold & Exploration. “We bought other mines, and at one stage we were running 16 underground mines around the country. We embraced the unions, all the unions, there were many. And we collapsed the management structures and turned the companies into profitable businesses.”