Barrick Gold Corp.’s top executive says inflation is going to be sticking around to hobble the mining industry for a while longer.
Despite expectations that the pace of inflation may start to ease as central banks ratchet up the cost of borrowing, Barrick’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow doesn’t see enough to move the needle much.
“No one’s doing anything to kill inflation,” he said Wednesday in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office. “It’s definitely not over.”
Earnings of the world’s second-largest gold miner were affected by higher inflation and lower production in 2022, as well as “challenges” at its Turquoise Ridge mine in Nevada, according to Bristow. Fourth-quarter results also surprised analysts with negative free cash flow and total cash costs that came in worse than expected, causing Barrick’s shares to drop as much as 4.5% in Toronto.
“We missed the guidance on cost, but we guided that we were going to be higher because the costs came at us quickly,” he said.
Still, the CEO sees some bright spots on the cost front, including an easing of fuel expenses due to a drop in natural gas prices. Labor is still high, though Bristow said Barrick is in “good shape” on that front in part because it uses US dollars for much of its business, including for its African operations in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Amid such a backdrop, Bristow is keen to highlight that Barrick will invest more on its operations in the coming year. Such “organic growth” will add 1 million ounces of gold production over the next two years, he said.
“This current year is a year where we’ve got quite a bit of capital,” Bristow said in a separate interview on Bloomberg TV. “We are going to invest in more mining fleet and so that does impact on the cash flow.”
(By Jacob Lorinc, with assistance from Alix Steel and Dani Burger)