(Reuters) - Miner Barrick Gold ABX.TOGOLD.N beat quarterly profit estimates and hiked its dividend on Mondayd, but warned that a prolonged shutdown could jeopardize the long-term viability of its Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea.
Barrick benefited from a rise in demand for the precious metal driven by economic uncertainty, and said key projects remain on track despite challenges tied to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gold prices have surged this year, with the metal’s traditional appeal as a haven supplemented by the impact of the flood of capital being pumped through the global financial system by central banks.
Barrick, which has an annual gold production target of 4.6 million ounces to 5 million ounces, said expansion in Pueblo Viejo, a joint venture with Newmont NEM.N in the Dominican Republic, and development of an underground mine at Goldrush in Nevada, remain on track despite the pandemic's impact.
Barrick hiked its quarterly dividend by 14%.
Gold production fell 15% due to the impact of the coronavirus at its Veladero mine in Argentina and a dispute with Papua New Guinea’s government.
Barrick stopped production at Porgera and sued the government after it refused to extend the mine’s expired lease in April.
Prime Minister James Marape in a radio interview last week said the mine may be closed for up to three years, according to a statement released Monday by the Porgera joint venture, Barrick Niugini Ltd.
“The chances of recovering the mine if it’s closed for three years is quite slim,” Barrick Chief Executive Mark Bristow told Reuters.
Barrick said it realized an average gold price of $1,725 per ounce in the quarter, a 31% jump from a year earlier.
Adjusted profit was 23 cents per share, topping estimates of 19 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
U.S-listed shares of Barrick were trading up 1.6% at $29.33 in morning trade. The miner has no plans to move its main listing from Toronto to New York, Bristow said in an interview.
Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Jeff Lewis in Toronto; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Jonathan Oatis
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