Barrick CEO calls for more consolidation in gold mining sector
Speaking to the Joburg Indaba mining conference, Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow said the global gold mining industry, and the gold industry in Africa in particular, should continue to consolidate or face the threat of serious reserve crisis.
Reuters reported that Bristow told the audience that because of a lack of exploration the average mine life across the gold mining sector has fallen from 20 years to closer to 10 years.
“The prospect of a serious reserve crisis is looming,” said Bristow. Gold production across the industry has only increased by 1.6 percent every year for the past two decades, he said.
On Mali, where Barrick is among the biggest investors and operates the Loulo-Gounkoto gold mine, Bristow said the transition after an August military coup has been “very well” run.
“Everyone agrees that 18 months for transition back to full civilian rule is doable, and that’s ambitious,” Bristow said, adding that “none of the organs of state has stopped functioning.”
Earlier in the week, Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings merged in a deal worth $4.1 billion to create a company worth about $11.5 billion. Bristow said that was a great example of industry consolidation that should be celebrated.
Bristow again signaled his appetite for acquiring Freeport-McMoran's Grasberg Mine in Indonesia, the world’s biggest gold mine and second-biggest copper mine.
“There are not a lot around and so by deduction of course we remain interested in being able to add to our portfolio any tier 1 asset out there,” he said.
Bristow said he has no doubt the company will be able to repatriate $500 million which belongs to its Kibali joint venture in the Congo.
“There’s a fundamental recognition that to continue to attract investors into the DRC, you have to give them the right to repatriate their profits,” he said.