Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ABX) reported adjusted net earnings of $131 million ($0.11 per share) for the third quarter and a net loss of $264 million ($0.23 per share). Third quarter adjusted EBITDA was $942 million and EBITDA was $490 million. Free cash flow was $866 million, or $256 million excluding the impact of$610 million in proceeds from the Pueblo Viejo streaming transaction2.
Production in the third quarter was in line with expectations at 1.66 million ounces of gold. All-in sustaining costs were $771per ounce and cash costs were $570 per ounce1. Full-year 2015 gold production is expected to be 6.1-6.3 million ounces at lower all-in sustaining costs of $830-$870 per ounce.
Our objective is to grow free cash flow per share from a portfolio of high-quality gold assets through disciplined capital allocation and operational excellence. In support of this objective, we have returned to a leaner, decentralized operating model designed to maximize free cash flow and improve execution. Clear capital allocation criteria, including a 15 percent hurdle rate for all investments, are driving greater financial rigor and stronger returns. The divestment of non-core assets has refocused our portfolio and we have formed vital new strategic partnerships that will drive new opportunities in the future.
All of this is driving stronger performance across the business, reflected by two consecutive quarters of positive free cash flow and improved costs. At the same time, we are strengthening our balance sheet and remain on track to reduce debt by $3 billion. This momentum will support our overriding objective of growing free cash flow per share, underpinned by a strong pipeline of organic projects and mine site expansion opportunities in our core regions.
STRENGTHENING THE BALANCE SHEET
Earlier this year, we set a $3 billion debt reduction target for 2015. We said we would achieve this through the disciplined sale of non-core assets, the formation of new joint ventures and partnerships, and by maximizing free cash flow from our operations. Thus far, we have completed or announced asset sales, joint ventures and partnerships valued at $2.46 billion. We have also generated $282 million in positive free cash flow in the last two quarters despite a lower gold price, reflecting the impact of our efforts to maximize free cash flow across the company. Both asset sales and cash flow improvements have been credit positive, and have resulted in improvements to our debt-to-EBITDA ratio. Achieving our $3 billion debt reduction target will also reduce annual pre-tax interest payments by approximately $140 million.
So far this year, total debt has been reduced by 15 percent, from $13.1 billion to $11.2 billion3, significantly reducing our near-term debt repayment obligations. We currently have less than $250 million in debt due before 2018 and approximately $5 billion of our $11.2 billion in outstanding debt matures after 2032. Building on $1.9 billion in repayments already completed this year, we intend to use approximately $1 billion in proceeds from the sale of 50 percent of Zaldívar to reduce debt. The sale is expected to close in the fourth quarter. This would bring total debt repayments to approximately $2.9 billion. We intend to use free cash flow to reach our target of $3 billion.
Assuming the completion of $3 billion in repayments, total debt will have been reduced by 23 percent, from $13.1 billion to $10.1 billion.
We also expect to announce the outcome of a process for the sale of certain non-core U.S. assets in the fourth quarter. As we move into 2016 and beyond, we will continue to take prudent steps to strengthen our balance sheet, balancing debt repayments with investments in profitable production that will drive growth in free cash flow and EBITDA.
Our liquidity position continues to improve, with strong cash flow generation, very modest near-term debt repayment obligations, a $4 billion undrawn credit facility and $3.34 billion in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter.
Free cash flow increased to $866 million, or $256 million excluding the impact of $610 million in proceeds from the Pueblo Viejo streaming transaction. This compares to $26 million in free cash flow in the second quarter of 2015. Two consecutive quarters of positive free cash flow after a prolonged period of negative free cash flow reflects our driving focus on maximizing free cash flow through greater capital discipline, operational efficiencies and strong cost management.
Third quarter 2015 adjusted net earnings were $131 million ($0.11 per share) compared to $222 million ($0.19 per share) in the prior year period. The net loss for the quarter was $264 million ($0.23 per share) compared to net earnings of $125 million($0.11 per share) in the prior year quarter. Lower adjusted net earnings reflect lower realized gold and copper prices and higher depreciation compared to the prior year period, partially offset by increased gold and copper sales. Significant adjusting items for the quarter (net of tax and non-controlling interest effects) include:
- $455 million in impairment charges primarily related to the reclassification of our Zaldívar mine as held-for-sale; and
- $29 million in costs arising from the write-down of obsolete supplies inventory; partially offset by
- $52 million of gains related to the sale of our Cowal mine and 50 percent of our interest in the Porgera mine; and
- $45 million in unrealized foreign currency translation gains.
Third quarter adjusted EBITDA was $942 million compared to $1.1 billion in the prior year period. On an unadjusted basis, EBITDA was $490 million for the third quarter compared to $1.0 billion in the prior year period. Operating cash flow was $1.26 billion compared to $852 million in the prior year period. Higher operating cash flow in the quarter reflects the impact of $610 million in proceeds from the Pueblo Viejo streaming transaction.
OPERATING HIGHLIGHTS AND GUIDANCE
Barrick’s operations continued to perform in line with expectations for the year, meeting cost and production targets for the third quarter while generating stronger free cash flow. We have tightened our gold production guidance range for 2015, from 6.1-6.4 million ounces to 6.1-6.3 million ounces, reflecting lower anticipated gold production from Acacia Mining plc.
All-in sustaining cost guidance for the year has been reduced to $830-$870 per ounce from the previous range of $840-$880per ounce. Average all-in sustaining costs for our five core mines are now expected to be $700-$725 per ounce in 2015, down from $725-$775 per ounce at the start of this year. These mines are expected to account for about 75 percent of free cash flow from operations and 60-65 percent of production in 2015.
Fourth quarter all-in sustaining costs are now expected to be similar to the third quarter while production is expected to be slightly higher, primarily driven by the impact of higher sustaining capital expenditures offset by higher production at Cortez, Pueblo Viejo, Lagunas Norte and Veladero. We expect significantly higher depreciation in the fourth quarter, primarily related to a drawdown in inventory stockpiles at Cortez, Lagunas Norte and Goldstrike and higher sales volumes at Pueblo Viejo.
Total copper guidance for 2015 remains unchanged at 480-520 million pounds. Full-year C1 cash costs are now expected to be $1.60-$1.85 per pound5, down from $1.75-$2.00 per pound, driven by currency impacts and improved costs at Lumwana.
|Production (000s of ounces)6
|AISC ($per ounce)
|Cash costs ($per ounce)
|Production (millions of pounds)
|C1 cash costs ($per pound)
|Total Capital Expenditures ($millions)8
The Cortez mine produced 321,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $501 per ounce in the third quarter. Production benefited from higher open pit tonnage and improved underground productivity through the implementation of short interval controls, an initiative identified as part of our Value Realization review for Cortez. Higher production, lower operating costs and lower sustaining capital drove improved all-in sustaining costs. Production in 2015 is now forecast to be 900,000-950,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $675-$725 per ounce. Fourth quarter production at Cortez is expected to be slightly higher than the third quarter, at higher costs.
A prefeasibility study for expanded underground mining in an area known as Deep South below currently permitted levels will be completed in late 2015 and results are expected to be disclosed with the company’s fourth quarter results. Our Value Realization review at Cortez also identified long-hole stoping as the preferred mining method for the deposit, as compared to the cut-and-fill method previously contemplated for the underground expansion, which could improve the economics of the project. Mineralization in this zone is primarily oxide and higher grade compared to the current underground mine, which is sulfide in nature. The limits of the Lower Zone have not yet been defined, and drilling has indicated the potential for new targets at depth.
With a 382-square-mile land package, Cortez remains a highly prospective district for Barrick.
The Goldstrike mine contributed 328,000 ounces in the third quarter in line with plan, while all-in sustaining costs of $558 per ounce were better than expected due to lower operating costs and lower sustaining capital. Our innovative thiosulfate (TCM) circuit achieved commercial production in the third quarter, coming in at a capital cost of $610 million. We expect to complete the ramp up of the TCM circuit in the first half of 2016. Goldstrike’s production for 2015 is forecast to be 1.00-1.10 million ounces at improved all-in sustaining costs of $650-$700 per ounce. Fourth quarter production is expected to be similar to the third quarter, at slightly higher costs.
Exploration at Goldstrike is focused on the underground mine where good potential exists at depth, and we plan to accelerate near-mine development in 2016. During the quarter, we began development of new areas below existing workings at Meikle and Rodeo in order to access deeper reserves which are expected to come into production at the end of 2016. This work will also open up new drilling platforms to better define future potential in these areas.
Pueblo Viejo (60 percent)
Barrick’s 60 percent share of production from Pueblo Viejo for the third quarter was 172,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $554 per ounce. Production was slightly below plan due to lower gold grades and recoveries from a higher proportion of carbonaceous ore. All-in sustaining costs were impacted by lower silver recoveries associated with a combination of scheduled autoclave maintenance in September, lime boil limitations and unscheduled maintenance on the limestone grinding circuit. Modifications to the lime boil are underway, including the addition of two lime boil tanks which will be operational in November. These additional tanks are expected to improve silver recoveries to the targeted 80 percent level from around 60 percent currently. We continue to forecast attributable production of 625,000-675,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $540-$590 per ounce in 2015. Production is expected to be higher and costs lower in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter on higher grades, improved recoveries and better autoclave availability.
At the end of 2014, Pueblo Viejo had approximately six million ounces of gold and 37 million ounces of silver in the measured and indicated resource category (Barrick’s 60 percent share)9. A significant portion of these resources are not currently included in reserves due to tailings storage constraints. We have completed a preliminary economic assessment on a plan to remove these constraints to tailings capacity, which if implemented could significantly extend the life of the mine. We expect to complete further engineering work and commission a prefeasibility study in the second half of 2016 to refine the technical and financial analysis for the increase in tailings storage capacity and to confirm whether the measured and indicated resources described above can be brought into reserves.
The Lagunas Norte mine contributed 108,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $581 per ounce in the third quarter, in line with expectations. Production in 2015 is now anticipated to be 550,000-590,000 ounces at improved all-in sustaining costs of$550-$600 per ounce, with stronger production expected in the fourth quarter driven by improved performance at the Phase Five leach pad. Fourth quarter all-in sustaining costs are expected to be higher than the third quarter, reflecting the sale of higher cost inventory as well as increased sustaining capital for Phase Six leach pad construction. A pre-feasibility study on a plan to extend the mine life by up to 12 years by mining nearly two million ounces of sulfide ore below the existing open pit is on schedule for completion in 2015.
The Veladero mine produced 143,000 ounces of gold in the third quarter at all-in sustaining costs of $914 per ounce. Production was below plan primarily due to lower grades in the Federico Phase Three pit and adverse weather events in August which impacted leach operations. All-in sustaining costs were higher than plan on lower gold ounces sold, timing of sustaining capital and lower silver credits. The addition of reagents to the leach circuit was temporarily halted in September following a valve failure on a pipe carrying processing solution, which led to a discharge to the environment through a diversion channel gate that was open at the time of the incident. Since the incident occurred, our first priority has been the safety of people and the environment. Water samples analyzed by independent third-parties, including the United Nations, have confirmed that there are no risks to the health of downstream communities as a result of this incident. Restrictions on leaching activities were lifted following implementation of additional monitoring and corrective actions. Production guidance for 2015 is unchanged at 575,000-625,000 ounces while all-in sustaining cost guidance has been narrowed to $950-$1,000per ounce. Fourth quarter production is expected to be higher, at lower all-in sustaining costs driven by better grades, lower capital expenditures and higher silver and inventory credits.
Turquoise Ridge (75 percent)
The Turquoise Ridge mine contributed 55,000 ounces in the third quarter at all-in sustaining costs of $738 per ounce, in line with expectations. The mine is forecast to produce 175,000-200,000 ounces in 2015 at improved all-in sustaining costs of$750-$800 per ounce. Detailed engineering and feasibility work on developing an additional shaft GöÇ which could bring forward more than one million ounces of production and roughly double output to an average of 500,000 ounces per year (100 percent basis) at all-in sustaining costs of about $625-$675 per ounce GöÇ is on track to be completed by the end of the year. Work to install additional ventilation capacity has also been initiated.
Porgera (47.5 percent)
The Porgera mine produced 134,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $986 per ounce, in line with plan. Attributable production in 2015 is now expected to be 400,000-450,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $1,025-$1,125 per ounce, reflecting Barrick’s reduced interest following the sale of 50 percent of Barrick (Niugini) Ltd. to Zijin Mining. Recent drought conditions are not expected to have a material impact on production in 2015. We expect to increase our exploration budget at Porgera in 2016 to focus on underground targets which have been identified through a new geological model.
Barrick’s other mines – consisting of Bald Mountain, 50 percent of Round Mountain, Golden Sunlight, Ruby Hill, Hemlo, Cowal, KCGM and Pierina – contributed 298,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $959 per ounce in the third quarter. A sale process is underway for Bald Mountain, Round Mountain, Ruby Hill, Golden Sunlight and the Spring Valley and Hilltop properties, with strong interest received to date.
Acacia Mining (63.9 percent)
Barrick’s share of third quarter production was lower than expected at 104,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $1,195 per ounce due to temporary factors impacting output from Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi. We now expect attributable 2015 production from Acacia to be about 460,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of approximately $1,155 per ounce.
Copper production in the third quarter was 140 million pounds at C1 cash costs of $1.53 per pound. For 2015, copper production is anticipated to be 480-520 million pounds at lower C1 cash costs of $1.60-$1.85 per pound, reflecting currency impacts and improved costs at Lumwana.
Lumwana contributed 77 million pounds at C1 cash costs of $1.59 per pound in the third quarter, in line with expectations. Power restrictions and potential reductions to smelter capacity in Zambia are not expected to have any material impact on Lumwana’s 2015 production guidance. Production is now anticipated to be 260-280 million pounds at lower C1 cash costs of$1.80-$2.00 per pound in 2015, reflecting higher grades.
Production of 63 million pounds at Zaldívar at C1 cash costs of $1.47 per pound in the third quarter was in line with plan.
At Jabal Sayid, first shipments of copper-in-concentrate continue to be anticipated in early 2016. Once the mine reaches full production, average production in the first full five years is expected to be 100 million pounds per year.
TARGETING $2 BILLION IN CASH FLOW IMPROVEMENTS
This year, we have taken significant actions to improve our business plans, resulting in positive free cash flow for two consecutive quarters. We remain focused on improving productivity and driving down costs to maximize free cash flow from our assets in any gold price environment.
In support of this, we are targeting $2 billion in cash flow improvements across the company before the end of 2016, relative to our original internal plans for 2015 and 2016. These improvements are coming from productivity gains and cost reductions across operating expenses, capital spending and corporate overhead.
While a majority of these actions will be incorporated into our 2016 plans, the initial outcomes are reflected in improvements to our 2015 guidance. Total capital expenditures for the year are expected to be 20 percent lower than 2014. Combined with reductions in corporate overhead and other operating cost savings, this has allowed us to reduce our 2015 all-in sustaining cost guidance by about $30 per ounce since the start of year, from our original range of $860-$895 per ounce to $830-$870per ounce in the third quarter. We are now focused on optimizing our 2016 plans, with an emphasis on operating cost and productivity improvements.
Our temporary suspension plan for Pascua-Lama has now been approved by the mining authority in Chile. This will enable us to complete the transition to care and maintenance, and should allow us to significantly reduce holding costs at the project in 2016. Implementation of the temporary suspension plan could require adjustments resulting from regulatory and legal actions and weather conditions, which could increase costs associated with the plan.
CONVERTING RESOURCES TO RESERVES
At the end of 2014, Barrick had 93 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves and 94 million ounces of measured and indicated gold resources10. At 1.37 grams per tonne, our reserve grade is more than 50 percent higher than the senior peer average11.
For more than 20 years, Barrick has maintained an average reserve mine life of between 10 to 20 years with a track record of replacing reserves and resources at our operations. Mine life and production rates at the majority of our mines have far surpassed initial estimates and we continue to identify excellent potential for resource conversion at many of our operations. Of our exploration budget, 65 percent is focused on opportunities at or near our existing operations. Drilling and feasibility study work to convert resources to reserves over the next five years at Cortez, Goldstrike, Lagunas Norte, Pueblo Viejo and Turquoise Ridge are progressing well. In addition, recent drilling at Hemlo and Porgera indicates strong potential for resource additions. We are also working to advance our Goldrush project in Nevada and drilling to define the limits of mineralization at the Alturas project in Chile is expected to resume in the fourth quarter, following the South American winter.
An illustration of the optionality that exists within our portfolio is the recent drill program at Hemlo. In the first quarter, Barrick completed the acquisition of surface and mineral rights adjacent to the Hemlo property in Ontario from subsidiaries ofNewmont Mining. These claims included an area of geological potential adjacent to Barrick’s existing underground workings. Barrick is currently undertaking an underground diamond drilling program in this area to evaluate its potential. To date, drilling has encountered a number of high grade intercepts with significant potential. These results highlight the ongoing potential of mineral deposits such as the Hemlo camp, even as they become mature operations.
A detailed update on reserves and resources will be provided with the company’s fourth quarter results in February 2016. (Original Source)
Shares of Barrick Gold are up 0.52% to $7.74 in after-hours trading. ABX has a 1-year high of $13.70 and a 1-year low of $5.91. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $6.95 and its 200-day moving average is $9.32.
On the ratings front, Barrick Gold has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report released yesterday, Barclays analyst Farooq Hamed reiterated a Hold rating on ABX, with a price target of $9, which implies an upside of 17.0% from current levels. Separately, on October 5, Deutsche Bank’s Jorge Beristain maintained a Buy rating on the stock .
According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Farooq Hamed and Jorge Beristain have a total average return of -11.5% and -15.4% respectively. Hamed has a success rate of 25.0% and is ranked #3655 out of 3804 analysts, while Beristain has a success rate of 31.7% and is ranked #3771.
Barrick Gold Corp produces and sells gold and copper. The Company business activities also includes exploration and mine development. It holds interests in oil and gas properties located in Canada.