Nevada Gold Mines exceeds expectations during first year
Nevada Gold Mines completed its first year by meeting production and cost targets, despite the complications that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barrick Gold Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow told Fox Business, “It's been a hectic time, but it really did create something special, something that everyone had been talking about for decades.”
Nevada Gold Mines formed a year ago as joint venture project between Barrick and Newmont Corp., the two largest gold mining companies in the world. The joint venture includes eight mines, including three Tier 1 assets and it is spearheaded by top management from both Barrick and Newmont. The joint venture has allowed the companies to find synergies from Barrick’s Goldstrike and Newmont’s Carlin operations. The Nevada sites are adjacent to each other.
“By removing the fences that had previously separated geologically connected assets, mines and projects that clearly belonged together could be combined into larger and more efficient operations, with substantial savings as an immediate benefit,” Bristow said in a media release. “Even more important, this joint venture has created a platform from where we can see a bright new future for Nevada Gold Mines as the leader of its industry in every respect: truly a case of the best assets and the best people delivering the best returns.”
A Tier 1 asset is a mine that has produced more than 500,000 ounces of gold per year for at least 10 years at the lower half of the cost curve.
Nevada Gold Mines is mining almost 4 million ounces of gold a year at a long-term price of $1,200/oz. The surging price reflects the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted on world economies, forcing some companies to shutter operations and others to set new healthcare guidelines to lower infection risks.
Investors responded by moving money from more volatile assets, such as stocks, into gold, which has historically been viewed as a safer store of value.
“This is a good time to be in the gold industry,” Bristow said.
Nevada Gold Mines calculated its single-biggest risk during the pandemic was that more than half its workforce of 700 would need to be isolated at one time.
However, at most, 590 workers were isolated at once and that number has since fallen to about 100 despite the number of infections in Nevada surging to a new high. Workers are given a temperature check upon arriving at the mine each day and are asked to perform self-assessments.
“Until you have a vaccine, you've got to be absolutely clear that you wear facemasks, you keep your distancing, you manage your personal space and then you can go about your reasonably normal life,” Bristow said.
Barrick, which owns 61.5 percent of Nevada Gold Mines, sees a “slightly softer” second quarter due to the virus causing some production to be pulled forward and a portion of maintenance work being delayed until the April-to-June period. Still, Bristow said the company is on track to meet its first-half and full-year guidance.
Bristow sees “more upside on the gold price than downside right now” due to the money-printing and bond-market purchases taking place at central banks around the world, and said the company has been “very busy” looking at its mergers and acquisitions options.