(Adds background on previous layoffs, slump in gold prices)
By Euan Rocha and Nicole Mordant
TORONTO/VANCOUVER, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp is eliminating its entire corporate development team and more cuts are in the works as the world’s top gold miner looks to trim costs, three sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.
The sources, who asked not to be named as they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Rick McCreary, the development team’s head, is leaving the company this week, with some others on the team set to depart next month.
The corporate development team’s main role was to identify and evaluate assets worth buying. McCreary, a former investment banker with CIBC, has led the team within Barrick since 2011.
A spokesman for Barrick declined to comment on whether the company was doing a wider round of cuts, which the sources said would be announced in the coming weeks. He confirmed, however, that the corporate development team was being restructured with some staff moving into other groups.
“The change reflects our focus on achieving operational excellence across the company, with an emphasis on optimizing our existing portfolio and further improving efficiency across our operations,” said Andy Lloyd, a spokesman for Barrick Gold.
Some staff from the corporate development team will stay on as part of a newly minted business development unit, while most others depart the company.
Barrick along with its smaller peers has been hurt badly in the last couple of years by the decline in the price of gold.
Barrick, in the last few years, has been largely focused on cutting costs and selling over $1 billion worth of assets deemed non-core. Takeovers have not really been on its radar, although it did abort an attempt to merge with rival Newmont Mining Corp early this year.
The latest round of cuts comes a little more than a year after Barrick moved to lay off up to a third of the staff at its headquarters in Toronto and other offices.
Last month, the miner announced that Chief Executive Officer Jamie Sokalsky would step down in September and not be replaced. The move concentrates power in the hands of Executive Chair John Thornton, who earlier this year took the reins from Barrick founder and long-time Chairman Peter Munk.
Thornton, a former senior executive at Goldman Sachs, has already driven many of the company’s recent initiatives, including an ill-fated attempt to merge with rival Newmont Mining and a joint venture with Saudi Arabian Mining Co , which is known as Ma’aden.
Barrick named Kelvin Dushnisky, its head of corporate and government affairs, and Chief Operating Officer Jim Gowans as co-presidents with overall responsibility for execution of the company’s strategic priorities and operating plans, at the time of Sokalsky’s ouster.
The miner said the co-president approach recognizes the importance of jointly managing daily mining operations and relationships with governments, local communities and other external stakeholders. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson, Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker)