Barrick eyes copper growth as Bristow laments market’s need for ‘instant gratification’

Barrick CEO Mark Bristow. Image courtesy of The Northern Miner.

Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) is projecting a 30% increase in production by 2030 on the back of the growth options embedded in its asset portfolio, its president and chief executive Mark Bristow said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the 2023 Gold Forum Americas conference, Bristow said the clean energy transition is creating an “unprecedented demand for metals and minerals,” but the market’s demand for instant gratification is driving M&A, which he believes is “not always conducive to investment in sustainable projects but rather the delivery of short-term returns.”

“These growth projects are vital, not only for the resources needed for cleaner energy but for the development of emerging economies,” Bristow added. The Barrick executive says mining is a long game that requires long-term vision and investment.

He also noted that Barrick owns and operates six of the world’s Tier 1 gold mines, and is poised to expand this “best-in-class” asset portfolio through continued reserve replacement and the potential for new world-class discoveries being pursued across many of the world’s most prolific gold belts.

Growing copper business

“In 2019 our strategy for the new Barrick included a mandate to grow our copper business, which we recognized as strategically important at that relatively early stage,” Bristow continued.

Earlier this year, RBC Dominion Securities analyst Sam Crittenden detailed a looming shortfall in copper supply driven by the energy transition, which will require an additional 1% of supply, the equivalent of one large copper mine, coming online every year.

Once fully ramped up, Barrick’s Reko Diq project in Pakistan and Lumwana in Zambia are expected to become two of the world’s top 20 copper mines by annual production sustained over significant multi-decade mine lives, Barrick said.

“If the forecasts of a copper shortage are even partly correct, this will give us a significant additional upside,” Bristow told reporters at the conference.

“We not only have a sustainable, fully budgeted 10-year base plan, we also have a growth plan that sees us increase production by 30% by the end of the decade, which I believe is unique in our industry,” he added.

Read More: Barrick to double copper output to 1 billion lb. by 2031