Barrick CEO not interested in ‘piecemeal’ talks over First Quantum assets

Barrick CEO Mark Bristow. Northern Miner photo.

Barrick Gold Corp CEO Mark Bristow said on Wednesday he was not interested in “piecemeal” discussions when asked whether the company would consider bidding for any of First Quantum Minerals Ltd’s assets.

Bristow also said the company did not meet First Quantum shareholders as part of any roadshow to gauge their support for a potential takeover, following a media report to that effect last month.

“I’m not interested in working on any sort of piecemeal discussion,” Bristow told Reuters in an interview after the company reported quarterly earnings.

First Quantum, which is dealing with the fallout of an order to close its flagship copper mine in Panama that accounted for about 40% of its revenues, said last month it is exploring options to “manage its balance sheet”, including selling smaller mines and bringing strategic investors into its larger mines.

The company has lost more than half the market value since street protests in Panama eventually resulted in the court order of mine closure, after a ruling that its contract to operate the facility was unconstitutional.

Bristow said the situation contained “multiple dynamics”, and that it would take more time for the market to appreciate its complexities.

“Once you can understand it, then maybe there’s something that can be done,” he added.

When approached on Wednesday, First Quantum declined to comment.

Panama holds a presidential election in May, and the debate over First Quantum’s mine has emerged as a flashpoint.

Barrick is building its own copper assets, including the Reko Diq project in Pakistan. Bristow said the company does not need to raise funds to develop its copper assets.

When asked if the outcome of the recent Pakistan election would have an impact on the project, Bristow said that the company is non-partisan and “doesn’t get involved” in politics.

The political stalemate in Pakistan after an inconclusive election ended with Shehbaz Sharif chosen to lead the country again.

“It was Imran Khan who signed the final framework of the project that led to an positive outcome for Reko Diq, but the civil servants who were leading the discussions have been the same,” Bristow said.

Reko Diq’s other equity partner could be Saudi Arabia, Bristow said, as its government is in talks with Pakistan to pick up a partial stake in the mine.

The discussions between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are ongoing, he said, and “nothing has been finalized” yet.

(By Divya Rajagopal, Felix Njini and Denny Thomas; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jan Harvey)

Read More: Northern Nevada ‘far from being mature district’ – Bristow


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *