Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg 

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Barrick Clings to Top Gold Miner Title as Newmont Closes Gap

Updated on
  • Gap between competitors narrows to about 50,000 ounces in 2017
  • Newmont produced 1.34 millions ounces in the fourth quarter

About 50,000 ounces -- or about 125 gold bars -- is all that stood in the way of Newmont Mining Corp. claiming the title of world’s biggest bullion producer.

Newmont said Thursday that it churned out 5.27 million ounces last year, compared with industry leader Barrick Gold Corp.’s 5.32 million ounces. Still, the Greenwood Village, Colorado-based miner is set to surpass its Canadian rival, according to their forecasts for coming years.

Chief Executive Officer Gary Goldberg has increasingly highlighted Newmont’s growth prospects to investors, as well as its commitment to lure investors away from gold exchange traded funds, or ETFs, with high dividends. On Tuesday, the company almost doubled its quarterly payout to 14 cents a share, a level Goldberg said the company came to after looking at its investment needs, debt profile, and various gold-price scenarios over the next five years.

“We’ll review it each quarter with the board but we feel this is a good sustainable level for us to be able to support and to try to attract generalists’ attention more into the space,” Goldberg said in a phone interview. He has previously spoken about the need to attract investors away from gold ETFs.

The focus on dividends and production has helped Newmont vault ahead of Toronto-based Barrick by market value. Newmont produced more gold than Barrick in the second half of 2017, but not enough to eclipse it on an full-year basis.

Newmont’s fourth-quarter production was 1.34 million, matching Barrick’s output.

Barrick sought to ease investor concern about its pipeline on Thursday, saying it will add 1 million ounces of production from four projects after 2022.

— With assistance by Luzi-Ann Javier

(Updates with exclusive comments Newmont CEO in fifth paragraph.)
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