Equinox haunts Barrick result

CANADIAN giant Barrick Gold has posted a $US3 billion ($A2.9 billion) loss for the December quarter after a $4.2 billion impairment on its copper assets and says it has no plans to build new mines.
Equinox haunts Barrick result Equinox haunts Barrick result Equinox haunts Barrick result Equinox haunts Barrick result Equinox haunts Barrick result

The company recorded a total after-tax asset and goodwill impairment charge of $3.8 billion on its copper business and said the new life-of-mine model for Lumwana in Zambia reflected higher operating and sustaining capital costs and lowered profitability.

Barrick acquired Australian copper producer Equinox Minerals for $C7.3 billion two years ago, but has been disappointed with the performance of its flagship asset, Lumwana.

The company said that as a result of the impairment it would not proceed with a proposed expansion at Lumwana.

For the full year, Barrick posted a $US670 million loss, though adjusted net earnings of $3.83 billion were the second highest in the company's history.

An operating cashflow of $5.44 billion was a company record.

Full-year production was 7.42 million ounces of gold, within guidance of 7.3-7.5Moz, including 2Moz in the December quarter.

Barrick boss Jamie Sokalsky reiterated a stricter approach to capital allocation.

"Investors are rightfully demanding fundamental change in the gold industry and Barrick is driving this new paradigm," he said.

"Rising costs, poor capital allocation and the pursuit of production growth at any cost in the industry have led to declining equity valuations across the sector.

"The message is clear: the industry must chart a new path forward.

"Barrick highlighted the need for change last year, and we are increasingly taking strong action and re-focusing our business based on the principle that returns will drive production, production will not drive returns."

Part of that change will be the introduction of "all-in" sustaining cash costs, following in the footsteps of other gold majors.

Total cash costs were $584 an ounce, against all-in costs of $972/oz for the full year.

Barrick will also cut or defer around $4 billion in previously budgeted capital spending and has no plans to build any new mines.

The company said it held a number of world-class orebodies with potential, but none met the investment criteria at the moment.

Barrick said annual production would be 8Moz per annum by 2016, instead of a previous target of 9Mozpa by 2015.

The company is still targeting the sale of non-core assets, including mines with short lives and high costs.

Overhead costs will be lowered by $100 million this year.

Guidance for 2013 is 7-7.4Moz at total cash costs of $610-660/oz and all-in costs of $1000-1100/oz.

The company acknowledged 2013 was a low-production year, with lower output expected from Goldstrike, Cortez, Lagunas Norte, Veladero and African Barrick Gold, mainly as a result of lower-grade zones being accessed.

Capital expenditure is expected to be $5.7-6.3 billion.

Shares in Barrick gained more than 2% overnight in Toronto and New York.

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