Barrick Says Becoming Debt-Free Within a Decade Is in Reach – by Danielle Bochove and Scott Deveau (Bloomberg News – July 8, 2016)

Barrick Gold Corp., the largest miner of the metal, could be free of debt within a decade on bullion-price gains, cost cuts and asset sales, President Kelvin Dushnisky said.

The Toronto-based miner had about $9 billion in debt in the first quarter, down from a peak of $15.8 billion in the second quarter of 2013. Dushnisky said debt could fall to $5 billion in three years and zero within 10 years.

“That’s not unreasonable,” Dushnisky said in an interview on Bloomberg TV Canada. “Yet again, it’s gold-price dependent. We’ve been very clear, Barrick was the only company with an A-rated balance sheet for the longest time. Our intent is to be strong investment grade, and we’d like to be in the position where we have no corporate debt.”

Barrick has set a target of paying down $2 billion in debt this year after exceeding its $3 billion debt-reduction goal in 2015. Dushnisky said the company had already achieved 40 percent of that goal by the end of the first quarter and, if the tailwinds continue, it may exceed those targets.

“We certainly could. We’re staying with our $2-billion target for now,” he said during a separate interview in Toronto. Gold futures have surged 28 percent to $1,357.40 an ounce this year on the Comex in New York.

Part of the debt strategy will involve divesting Barrick’s non-core assets, including its 50 percent stake in its Chilean copper mine, Zaldivar; its Zambian Lumwana copper mine; and its 64 percent interest in the publicly traded African operation, Acacia Mining Plc, at the right time, Dushnisky said.

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