Here’s Mark Bristow on his plans for Barrick in Canada in January 2019:
“...one of the things that I really am focused on is we definitely need more assets in Canada.”
Here’s Mark Bristow on his plans for Barrick in Canada in August 2021:
“Further afield across the Canadian gold fields, we continue to hunt for new opportunities capable of passing our investment filters. And I personally believe Canada is going to be playing an increasing part in Barrick’s future.“
And after being the recent underbidder for Kirkland Lake and for Great Bear, here’s Mark Bristow today:
“If you’re going to run a world- class business, you have to be global and Barrick is global,” Bristow said. “You can’t keep running back to the safe havens in the world. Some of the assets are not going to be in perfect addresses.”
The Barron’s interview published in the last couple of days is most interesting, this humble corner of cyberspace suggests you all have a read of it.
Bristow says Barrick is looking to buy copper assets and wants to focus on areas that some rivals find forbidding. He points to the company’s success in Zambia, where Barrick operates a large copper mine, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has a big gold mine.
“These are clearly countries where we have a competitive advantage over traditional copper miners from the Western world that are too scared to go to those countries,” he said. “We are comfortable in the African environment.”
The above is the most quotable quote from the piece, though hearing Bristow’s Barrick is “comfortable with Africa” and actively looking to expand there won’t come as much surprise to readers of this humble corner of cyberspace. It’s not the first time he’s voiced enthusiasm for copper assets either, however this time there seems to be more urgency and the desire to “do something” after swinging and missing at two Canada-centric buyouts is evident. Result? A change of tack, the appearance of the swashbuckling world-traveller image in a Barron’s puff piece and a disparaging tone toward wimpy peer companies coveting Tier One jurisdictions.
So Barrick wants copper, wants gold and wants big projects and yes, Africa is a place to go…errr…elephant hunting for those prizes, but let us also consider the other obvious global geological setting for that type of deposit, the Andes Cordillera. In your humble scribe’s insignificant opinion, Bristow is considering his company’s future and next set of growth projects in geopolitical terms, rather than geological. Good news for his geols in South America, as they can’t be blamed for finding prospective grassroots projects (e.g. Las Alturas/Del Carmen, which seems to be going the way of Pascua Lama) that look good on paper, but get shuffled down the pack for political, environmental or permitting issues. So setting Africa aside and to finish this musing on IKN’s region of focus, if ABX were to move on something in LatAm it’s tough to get away from the attraction of copper/gold deposits in Argentina. Right price, right time and whoever is in the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, they’ll always be on Bristow’s purported WhatsApp list. That may be also be true in Chile today, but it’s a little tougher to believe as from March 11th.