October 27, 2016 / 3:48 PM / a year ago

Barrick says it's open to offers for core mines, including Veladero

TORONTO, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp will consider offers to buy all or some of its five major mines, including Veladero in Argentina, a top executive said on Thursday, after Reuters reported the company held talks with Chinese miners.

China’s Zijin Mining Group and Shandong Gold Mining have had separate discussions with Barrick about buying a 50 percent stake in Veladero, according to four sources with knowledge of the process.

“We’ve never said that we would not sell a core mine or part of a core mine,” Barrick President Kelvin Dushnisky said on a conference call.

The entire El Indio belt, which includes Veladero, is “a great opportunity for us to look at potential partnerships for future development,” he said.

El Indio, a 140 km (87-mile) stretch of land, is also home to Barrick’s Pascua-Lama and Alturas mines,

Two sources had told Reuters that Barrick would like the buyer of a stake in Veladero to also invest in its neighboring Pascua-Lama project, which straddles the border of Argentina and Chile.

Last year, Barrick sold a stake in its Papua New Guinean mine to Zijin, one of China’s biggest gold producers, and the two companies formed a partnership.

“We have said that partnerships are core to our strategy,” Dushnisky said. “You can expect to see more from us in that regard going forward, when it makes sense.”

Barrick is also considering opportunities to acquire assets but will be “discerning,” he said.

The company has been selling off assets and using cash flow to pay down debt.

Barrick’s 50 percent stake in the Kalgoorlie Super Pit mine in western Australia has drawn “robust” interest from miners in and outside that country since it went on the block last quarter, Dushnisky said.

Newmont Mining Corp, which operates Kalgoorlie and owns the other 50 percent, has expressed interest in the acquisition, but differing views on valuation have thwarted a deal.

Toronto-based Barrick reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday and cut its 2016 production cost and output forecasts. (Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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