Barrick CEO sees few good deals despite mining’s M&A revival

Mark Bristow, Barrick Gold CEO. (Image: Screenshot from: Future Minerals’ video |YouTube.)

Barrick Gold Corp. won’t be pressured into making any major acquisitions even as its rivals pursue a flurry of dealmaking in the mining industry, chief executive officer Mark Bristow said.

“The market is constantly dragging us into the M&A conversation, and we don’t need that,” Bristow said Tuesday in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office. “We’re not anti-M&A — it’s a component of any industry rearrangement — but the problem is that, in the gold industry, most of the tier one assets remaining are embedded in bad assets. And you can’t unlock them.”

The world’s biggest gold miners have made blockbuster deals in the past couple years to boost production and replace older assets. Newmont Corp. is finalizing a $19 billion deal to buy Australia’s Newcrest Mining Ltd., solidifying its position as the top bullion producer. Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. has done two major deals since 2022 to become the third-largest producer of the precious metal.

Barrick, the No. 2 gold miner, is said to have approached copper producer First Quantum Minerals Ltd. earlier this year to informally discuss a deal and was rebuffed, Bloomberg reported in mid-June.

“Every time anyone thinks of a potential transaction, someone brings up Barrick,” Bristow said earlier Tuesday during a Bloomberg TV interview. “It’s something I’ve gotten used to.”

Barrick hasn’t made any formal approach to buy the Vancouver-based copper miner, Bristow said during the Toronto interview.

“Of course we look at everything, but I, to this day, haven’t sat down with Tristan or his father to try to work out something,” he said, referring to First Quantum CEO Tristan Pascall and his father Philip Pascall, the chairman.

First Quantum has major copper assets in Panama and Zambia — two countries Bristow says are “challenging” to operate in.

“I’m a cautious individual,” he said. “I might be able to take on these challenging jurisdictions, but it’s because we’re very diligent on this. I’m not going to be reckless.”

(By Jacob Lorinc)


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