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Copper is a modern metal, says Barrick Gold

Canadian mining company, Barrick Gold looks to expand on their copper industry as they believe the metal is strategic, modern and irreplaceable.

Barrick Gold is the owner of Lumwana Copper Mine in Zambia.

According to their CEO, Mark Bristow, Barrick is on the lookout for growth in the copper industry either through exploration or acquisitions

“Copper is more strategic than cobalt, more strategic than lithium. You can’t replace copper on conductivity. It is a modern metal,” said Bristow.

He also added that the attraction of copper for Barrick is that it is often mined alongside gold in the Americas and shares common processing techniques.

“It’s processing characteristics are identical to gold. You can leach it, you can concentrate it, you can smelt it. It is a very uncomplicated process. It’s the same as gold and it comes with gold,” he said.

“Where we have opportunities to secure or expand our copper footprint, we will,” he added

According to reports coming from Canada, the company was already assessing potential deals in South America.

On the Zambian front, Bristow said he is talking to the government as the company plans to explore new business opportunities as well as consolidate the copper industry.

The implication is that instead of a Lumwana divestment, Barrick would consider joint ventures in the country

“We have talked to the government that we would help accommodate a rationalisation of the industry to achieve this.

“Zambia needs a complete re-arrangement,” he said. These comments run contrary to previous reports that Bristow wanted to divest from Lumwana. “There will be no fire sale,” he said.

Barrick announced in its numbers that it had written back $947m related to its Lumwana asset which Bristow said was a function of its team having “added value”. Of the 111 million pounds of copper produced by Barrick in the third quarter, 65 million pounds were produced at Lumwana (Q2: 49 million lb).

Barrick reported net earnings of $1.30/share and adjusted net earnings of $0.15, a 67% increase quarter-on-quarter largely owing to the dollar gold price improvement. Net debt was reduced by 14% to $3.2bn after the payment of the dividend. As a sign of confidence in the company’s future cash generation, the quarterly dividend was increased by 25% to $0.05/share.

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