Barrick Lowers Annual Cost Forecast in Efficiency Drive

Barrick Gold Corp. reduced its cost forecasts for the year as the world’s largest producer of the precious metal seeks to improve efficiencies amid lower gold prices.

So-called all-in sustaining costs are forecast at $900 to $940 an ounce of gold, compared with a previous range of $920 to $980, Barrick said today in its second-quarter earnings statement. The Toronto-based company reported second-quarter costs of $865 an ounce, compared with $910 a year earlier and the $941 average of three analyst estimates.

Barrick is among producers working to reduce costs after the metal’s 28 percent slump last year, the most in more than three decades. The world’s biggest gold miners have cut budgets, sold less-profitable assets and adjusted operating plans to improve efficiencies.

Barrick reported a second-quarter profit excluding one-time items of 14 cents a share. That compared with the 15-cent average of 23 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales fell to $2.43 billion from $3.2 billion, less than the $2.46 billion average estimate.

Barrick announced July 16 that Chief Executive Jamie Sokalsky would leave in two months and his position would be eliminated. Sokalsky’s responsibilities will be split between other executives, including two newly appointed co-presidents, Chairman John Thornton said at the time.

Paring Output

Under Sokalsky, who became CEO in June 2012, Barrick has pared output plans to focus on the most profitable operations, cut operating costs and issued shares to reduce debt, as the company grappled with the drop in gold prices. Barrick’s February production forecast of 6 million to 6.5 million ounces of gold for 2014 would be the lowest since 2005.

Barrick has already trimmed its portfolio of mines to 19, from 27 in 2013, by selling and closing smaller and higher-cost operations. The miner’s goals of being the leading gold company and a leading copper producer don’t require it to be the biggest, Thornton said in a July 16 interview.

Gold averaged $1,290 an ounce on the Comex in New York in the second quarter, 9 percent less than a year earlier and 0.3 percent lower than the first quarter.

(Barrick scheduled a conference call tomorrow to discuss the results at 9:30 a.m. New York time, accessible in North America at 1-888-789-9572 and for other callers at 1-416-695-7806. The passcode is 1126230.)

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