Barrick says more noncore disposals to come
Mining News Pro - Canada’s Barrick Gold has met the $1.5-billion disposal target it had set in 2018 and CEO Mark Bristow said this week that the group could shed more noncore assets, particularly in the current gold price environment.

“The higher gold price turns some of our smaller assets within our portfolio into something that is quite attractive, and we have a number of those,” he said, adding that these might well prove to be the sort of foundation for start-up initiatives.

While the big ticket noncore disposals were Barrick’s 50% interest in Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines, which holds Super Pit, in Australia, and the sale of Massawa, in Senegal, the group has also cleaned up equity positions and ownership of smaller projects.

“There were lots of transactions we’ve done, sort of $5-million, $10-million, $15-million, tidying up the portfolio,” Bristow said during question time in its second-quarter results presentation, pointing to its latest announcement of a definitive agreement over Eskay Creek, in Canada.

Junior Skeena Resources will acquire the gold and silver project, in the Golden Triangle of north-west British Columbia. As a result, Barrick will become a shareholder in Skeena.

“We’re a big shareholder in that project and we’ll manage our way out of it over time, and we’ve still got others to do."

When questioned about whether Barrick is considered “more of a seller than a builder” in the Donlin Gold project, in Alaska, Bristow said that the asset was currently a key project for the group.

“If you look at Donlin compared to some of the other assets in our portfolio, it`s a pure gold play. It fits – it`s in a mining-friendly jurisdiction. It`s just in a very challenging geographical setting."

He puts the project`s risks into three categories: Construction risk because of its location, capital risk because of its size and geology risk.

"[Geology] is something we can de-risk," Bristow said. Barrick and Donlin co-owner NovaGold have employed some “really quality skills” at the project to deal with the geological risks.

A drilling programme is currently under way at Donlin, which has yielded encouraging initial results.

“Once we have a clear definition of the reserves and more importantly, the shapes of the ore bodies, we can then set with confidence the mining plan and, more importantly, the rate at which we can mine, which of course will set the amount of gold that we can produce on an annualised basis, and then all the rest is able to be measured against that.”

“But it`s still early days. We`ve got another 90% of that drill programme to finish."

The 2020 drilling programme is the largest campaign at Donlin since 2008, and aims to validate the recent geological and resource modelling controls that the partners developed.

Novagold recently had to fend off criticism from a short-selling firm and a class action law firm over, among others, claims that Barrick reportedly did not “even include Donlin in its ten-year plan”.