(New throughout, adds chairman's comments on M&A, growth from
By Susan Taylor
TORONTO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold on
Thursday predicted lower gold production over the next decade,
risking its rank as the world's biggest bullion producer, but
executives insisted they will not make acquisitions simply to
sate a call for growth.
The Toronto-based company, whose output could be eclipsed
this year by rival Newmont Mining Corp, considered a
number of deals over the past year that offered growth, but
passed on them all, said Chairman John Thornton.
While growth is a "conundrum" which Barrick has failed to
deliver, "we will not yield to the pressure to 'just find
something' in order to 'grow'," he said at the outset of a
three-hour webcast presentation.
Barrick forecasts annual production of more than 4 million
ounces of gold between 2023 and 2027, a steady view that
contrasts with last week's market-rattling outlook for lower
output and higher costs in the near term.
For 2018, Barrick cut its forecast output to 4.5-5 million
ounces of gold and predicted annual production of 4.2-4.6
million ounces from 2019 to 2022.
Newmont expects to exceed that forecast, projecting 2018
production of 4.9-5.4 million ounces of gold and 4.6-5.1 million
ounces annually through 2022.
Still, Barrick flagged four projects that could add more
than 1 million ounces to annual output starting in 2021,
including three Nevada developments approved to proceed.
Notably, the $300-$325 million Turquoise Ridge project will
nearly double annual output, to more than 500,000 ounces, said
Barrick, which owns 75 percent of the mine. Newmont owns the
remaining 25 percent.
The long-range forecast reflects potential gains from the
Cortez Deep South, Goldrush and Turquoise Ridge mines and
Robertson property in Nevada; Lagunas Norte in Peru; and Pueblo
Viejo in the Dominican Republic.
It does not include contribution from large-scale
'greenfield' projects: Alturas, Donlin Gold, a Norte Abierto
joint venture, or Pascua-Lama.
The long-stalled Pascua-Lama project does not currently meet
Barrick's investment criteria and the company said it plans to
seek a partner. Shandong Gold, which owns half of
Barrick's Veladero mine in Argentina, has formed a working group
with Barrick to study a potential partnership.
Barrick also said Chief Operating Officer Richard Williams
is stepping down to take on a new role focused on talks with
Tanzania for the company's troubled Acacia Mining unit.
Senior Vice President Greg Walker will be responsible for
operations, Barrick said. The Toronto-based miner told Reuters
the COO title does not exist at this time.
(Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Paul
Simao and David Gregorio)
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