Barrick posts fourth quarter loss after big copper asset write-down

Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:57am EST
 

(Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.N: Quote) (ABX.TO: Quote), the world's largest gold miner, reported a quarterly loss on Thursday, after booking a $3.8 billion impairment charge to write down the value of its Lumwana copper asset.

The Toronto-based miner also said it has no plans to build any new mines at this time, due to the extremely challenging cost environment. However, Barrick will continue working on its massive Pascua Lama mine on the border of Argentina and Chile, with production targeted for the second half of 2014.

"We are increasingly taking strong action and refocusing our business based on the principle that returns will drive production, production will not drive returns," said Barrick's Chief Executive Jamie Sokalsky, in a statement.

Barrick said the write-down on Lumwana, the Zambian copper mine it acquired through its C$7.3 billion ($7.28 billion)takeover of Equinox Minerals in 2011, is due to higher operating and sustaining capital costs and reduced profitability.

The company also separately booked a $400 million charge to write down the value of its oil and natural gas business unit and the value of its investment in the Reko Diq project in Pakistan.

Barrick reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $3.06 billion or $3.06 a share. That compared with a year-earlier profit of $959 million, or 96 cents a share.

Excluding one-time items, earnings in the period were $1.11 billion, or $1.11 per share, down from $1.17 billion, or $1.17 per share, in the same period a year earlier.

The company said it expects 2013 gold production to be in the range of 7 million to 7.4 million ounces.

($1 = 1.0025 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)