August 12, 2019 / 11:12 AM / 11 days ago

Barrick doesn't have 'for-sale' sign on Tongon, Massawa, but open to options: CEO

(Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) (GOLD.N) is not actively seeking to sell its Tongon mine in Ivory Coast and the Massawa project in Senegal but will consider various options for both, Chief Executive Mark Bristow told Reuters on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of sponsor Barrick Gold Corporation is seen as visitors arrive at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

“We don’t have a for-sale sign” at Tongon and Massawa, Bristow said in an interview in Toronto. “We’re spending a lot of exploration dollars trying to extend Tongon’s life.”

The comments came after the world’s second-biggest gold producer reported quarterly adjusted net income that almost doubled from a year ago on higher production.

While Barrick has said it will focus on its best-performing assets and look to divest the rest, it is also trying to extract more from its mines by stepping up exploration around them.

The company is open to acquiring assets around Tongon from junior miners to extend its life, or selling the mine as part of a bigger transaction, possibly with Massawa, Bristow said.

Barrick is also proceeding with Massawa’s development but could sell the project to a company with the infrastructure to mine it and take a stake in the acquirer, Bristow said.

Bloomberg reported last week that Barrick is considering the sale of Tongon. The company is prepping the sale of its Lumwana mine in Zambia in the second half, Reuters reported in May.

Barrick said on Monday it plans to begin the sale process for its 50% stake in the Kalgoorlie operation in Western Australia in the third quarter.

Kalgoorlie, Tongon and Lumwana are not among the Tier 1 mines that Barrick has said it will focus on.

The Toronto-based company has undertaken a flurry of deals recently, from the acquisition of Randgold Resources to a joint venture in Nevada with the world’s biggest gold producer, Newmont Goldcorp (NEM.N), to retaking control of Tanzania-focused unit Acacia Mining Plc (ACAA.L).

Bristow said Barrick has a “great deal of work” to resolve a tax dispute with the Tanzanian government and increase productivity at Acacia, whose buyout the company expects to complete next month.

Barrick shares slipped 0.3% to C$23.87 in afternoon trading in Toronto after earlier gaining as much as 3%, compared with the benchmark NYSE Arca Gold Miners index’s 1% drop.

Barrick reported adjusted profit of $154 million, or 9 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $81 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.

Barrick expects 2019 gold production to be at the higher end of its 5.1 million to 5.6 million range, and all-in sustaining costs to be at the lower end of its $870 to $920 per ounce range.

Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto and Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Nick Zieminski, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman

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