Barrick Gold continues to sell assets but suffers HSBC downgrade

Barrick Gold

Barrick Gold operations in Australia | Screenshot from Barrick YouTube video

Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) has sold its interest in the Kanowna operation in western Australia to Northern Start Resources for $75 million cash, but its cost-cutting initiatives haven't saved it from a downgrade from HSBC.

The sale is part of Barrick's 'portfolio optimization program' through which the company is letting go of short life, high cost and non-core assets. The transaction is expected to close in March 2014, subject to certain closing adjustments.

This is the third Australian asset Barrick has dropped over the past year. Last month, the mining giant sold its Plutonic mine also to Northern Star for $25 million. In October the company announced the sale of its Yilgarn South properties to Gold Fields.

Meanwhile, HSBC downgraded Barrick, African Barrick and Yamana Gold, and lowered its 2014 price target for gold from $1,435 per ounce to $1,292, Barron's reported Wednesday afternoon.

"Barrick may benefit this year from new mine plans which could radically improve near term cashflow, but we expect this to come at the expense of reserves and mine life," HSBC wrote, as reported by Barron's.

Barrick lost 2.3% on the New York exchange on Wednesday to trade at $18.80 per share.

The Kanowna property is made up of three underground mines – Kanowna Belle, Raleigh, and Rubicon/Hornet – 570 kilometers east of Perth.

As of December 2012, Kanowna contained proven and probable reserves of 600,000 ounces of gold, measured and indicated resources of 600,000 ounces and inferred resources of 400,000 ounces. The mine produced about 225,000 ounces in 2013.