Barrick misses gold guidance as output sinks to 22-year low

Underground at Bulyanhulu. (Image courtesy of Barrick Gold.)

Barrick Gold Corp.’s bullion output slid last year to its lowest level since 2000, missing analysts’ expectations and its own target as operational woes curbed production.

Barrick produced 4.14 million ounces of gold last year, marking its third straight decline in annual output, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the company. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow had said as recently as Nov. 3 that Barrick was on track to achieve its annual guidance of 4.2 million to 4.6 million ounces, albeit at the lower end of the range.

Barrick shares fell 3% to C$25.32 at 12:05 p.m. in Toronto, the biggest intraday decline since mid December.

The world’s second-biggest gold producer has faced challenges at its mines through 2022 that hurt production, including repairs and upgrades in Nevada and the inability to resume operations at its Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea while awaiting an agreement with the government to restart the facility.

Gold output in the fourth quarter was 1.11 million ounces, its strongest quarter in a year though still short of analysts’ expectations. Meanwhile, annual copper production was 440 million pounds, in the mid range of its guidance and topping estimates.

The Toronto-based metals producer has seen bullion output slide since acquiring Randgold Resources Ltd in 2019. Barrick’s highest annual output was in 2006, when it produced a record 8.64 million ounces in the year that saw the company take over its Canadian rival Placer Dome Inc.

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Acquisitions could help lift Barrick’s metals output while awaiting longer-term development projects to come to fruition. Bristow said in a Dec. 28 interview that he’s focusing on deals in “the junior part of the market” this year.

Barrick is scheduled to release fourth-quarter earnings results on Feb. 15, a report that typically outlines the firm’s guidance for metals production for the year ahead.

(By Jacob Lorinc)

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