Barrick turns to Cisco to drag gold mining into digital era – by Danielle Bochove and Dina Bass (Financial Post/Bloomberg – September 12, 2016)

The biggest gold producer is joining forces with an even larger tech giant to drag the traditional world of mining into the new millennium.

Barrick Gold Corp. signed a deal with Cisco Systems Inc. for a “digital reinvention” of its global mining operations, the Toronto-based miner said in a statement Monday. The partnership — struck between Barrick Executive Chairman John Thornton and Cisco Chairman John Chambers — will start with the Cortez mine in Nevada.

The goal is to cut costs and wring additional value out of existing mines. For example, Barrick expects a flow of real-time data will allow it to predict when equipment is likely to need maintenance and to adjust mine plans quickly as conditions such as prices, weather or ore grades change. The partnership will increase cash flow over the long term while reducing environmental impact and increasing transparency with governments and communities, Thornton said.

“We mean to create value and push the boundaries of our industry in entirely new ways,” he said in the statement.

It marks the latest step in Barrick’s journey under Thornton. The banker-turned-miner has overseen one of the industry’s biggest cost-cutting and debt-fighting efforts after a slump in prices eroded earnings and sent leverage metrics soaring. His stated goal is to make Barrick one of the best companies in the world this century, in any industry.

Barrick’s debt is down 43 per cent to US$9 billion from a 2013 peak, with most of the heavy lifting done under Thornton’s tenure.

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