Pacific success hinges on Porgera

STRUGGLING with unrest at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea, Barrick chief executive Mark Bristow said that his company offered the government a 52% share of the economic benefits of the mine in response to government demands for a larger stake.
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Mark Bristow

Staff Reporter

Reuters reports that Bristow was speaking on the sidelines of Cape Town's Mining Indaba in Cape Town. He said that if Barrick succeeded in resolving the dispute in PNG, the market would be more comfortable with the company taking on more risk the Pacific Rim.
Bristow also said Barrick did not want to buy copper mining giant Freeport McMoRan, although it was interested in its rival's flagship Grasberg mine in Indonesia.
The strategy replicates one that Bristow successfully deployed in 2019: aggressively float interest in an entire company even though the ultimate goal is just one asset, Reuters reported.
Specultion that Barrick, the world's second-largest gold miner, planned to bid for Freeport were "completely wrong", Bristow told Reuters. "People jump to conclusions," he said.
Speculation, though, was flamed in recent weeks by Bristow himself in meetings with analysts and investors that leaked out to various media.
"People say, ‘Are you interested in Grasberg?' I say, ‘I have to be; it's a tier one asset,'" Bristow said. 
Buying Grasberg - the world's largest gold mine and second-largest copper mine - would fit nicely into Barrick's strategy of expanding in the Pacific Rim and capitalising on rising copper demand from the electric vehicle industry.
Bristow said he believes copper will be "the most-strategic metal on this planet" in a decade.
Reuters said that a Freeport spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an interview with Reuters last week, Freeport CEO Richard Adkerson declined to discuss Barrick.
Bristow last February launched a hostile takeover bid for rival gold miner Newmont Corporation. The fight turned nasty - Bristow at one point called Newmont's then-CEO a "loser" - but ultimately Bristow got what he wanted: a cost-saving joint venture between the two companies in Nevada.
Buying all of Freeport, which traces its roots back to 1834, could bring legacy risk associated with old mines, Bristow said.
Freeport in late 2018 relinquished majority control of Grasberg under pressure from the Indonesian government. The deal smoothed relations with Jakarta and keeps Freeport the mine's operator until 2041.
Freeport is now spending more than $15 billion to expand Grasberg in what will be the largest underground mine ever developed, Reuters reported.