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Nov 4, 2021

Barrick Gold controls costs to extend run of earnings beats

John O'Connell discusses Barrick Gold

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Barrick Gold Corp.’s Mark Bristow is doing a better job at controlling costs than expected.

Like his rivals, the head of the world’s second-largest gold company is battling tight labor markets and pricier freight, energy and other inputs amid ongoing supply-chain snarls. 

But while those headwinds hit bullion producers harder than base metal miners given gold prices are down from a year ago, Barrick is defending margins better than most. The Toronto-based company exceeded earnings estimates for a ninth straight quarter as costs came in below consensus and that of larger competitor Newmont Corp.

The Barrick chief executive puts it down to the fact that the company is still unlocking savings following its takeover of Randgold, as well as efforts to mitigate pricing and cost pressures such as migrating to a younger workforce. Then there’s Bristow’s approach to managing complex shipping lines with “some paranoia,” the South African said in an interview Thursday.

Barrick’s all-in sustaining costs came in at US$1,034 per ounce last quarter, well up from a year earlier but down slightly from the second quarter and below the US$1,072 average estimate. Newmont reported US$1,120. That helped Barrick generate adjusted earnings of 24 cents a share, ahead of the 23-cent average estimate. Newmont’s earnings came in 18 per cent below consensus.

While energy costs are largely out of Barrick’s hands, “on the rest, the commercial pressures, 2 per cent is probably a good number to finish off with the year,” Bristow said.