Barrick Gold Corp.’s top executive says he’s on the hunt for more gold deals -- there just aren’t many appealing choices.

The world’s No. 2 bullion producer is keeping “a sharp outlook for M&A opportunities,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said Thursday in his company’s third-quarter earnings report, though those that could pass the company’s strict investment criteria “are few and far between.”

Bristow reiterated his longstanding view that the gold industry needs more consolidation in an interview after Barrick posted its 13th consecutive quarterly earnings beat. His comments come as South Africa’s Gold Fields Ltd. tries to drum up investor support for a takeover of fellow Canadian miner Yamana Gold Inc. in what would be the biggest bullion deal of the year.

“The industry is still, for me, very fragmented,” Bristow said by phone. “When you look at the really big players, their asset arrangements are questionable.”

Still, Bristow says deals are tough to find, adding that “the larger industry doesn’t invest in its own future.”

Bristow wouldn’t weigh in on the prospects of any mega-merger involving the world’s biggest gold companies. Back in 2019, Barrick tried to buy Newmont Mining Corp. in a hostile takeover, but backed off when the companies agreed to a joint venture in Nevada. At the time, Bristow said the miners wouldn’t buy each others shares or enter into any hostilities for the next two years, unless it was a “friendly” deal.

When asked if that standstill agreement is still in place, Bristow replied that Barrick “has a great relationship with Newmont.”

Barrick shares fell 8.7 per cent to settle at US$13.10 in New York, the biggest decline since March 2020, as the company reported persistent supply chain struggles and all-in sustaining costs that rose to US$1,269 an ounce from US$1,212 last quarter.