(New throughout, adds details of CEO interview)
By Nichola Saminather
TORONTO, May 8 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp , the world’s second-largest gold producer, said on Wednesday it remained open to new investments, even as it plans to shed $1.5 billion of less productive mines.
Fresh from two major deals in recent months, Barrick is seeking early-stage exploration projects, particularly in Canada, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said in an interview.
Barrick also announced quarterly adjusted earnings that beat expectations, although net income declined and its shares fell 1 percent. The company is seeking to head off stagnation by investing in projects that will boost future production when its operating mines wind down.
“I would want to find another Morila or Goldrush,” Bristow said, referring to two of the company’s more productive operations in Mali and Nevada. “If I couldn’t, I would like to find the person who’s found one before they realize what they’ve found.”
Barrick plans to fund the purchases with the $1.5 billion it aims to realize from the sales of more mature mines with little expansion potential, Bristow said.
Barrick also wants to invest more in Canada, taking advantage of its tax shield as a locally based company, Bristow said.
The company is combing through Canadian junior miners’ portfolios and tracking drilling results to identify assets that could become high-yielding mines, Bristow said.
Barrick would be interested in copper and gold assets, and also in pure copper if it has a competitive advantage over traditional miners, he said.
Earlier, Barrick said in a statement it plans to expand output at and around its existing mines, including in Latin America, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nevada.
Barrick made Bristow CEO in January after it closed its $6.1 billion acquisition of Randgold Resources, which he had led. Soon after, Barrick formed a joint venture with rival Newmont Goldcorp to combine operations in Nevada to create the world’s biggest gold complex.
Also on Wednesday, Barrick said adjusted net income was 11 cents a share, beating forecasts for 9 cents a share. Quarterly net income of $111 million, or 6 cents per share, fell from $158 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 17 percent to $2.1 billion over the year.
Shares in Barrick, which declared a quarterly dividend of 4 cents a share, closed down 1.05 percent at $16.94 in Toronto. (Reporting by Nichola Saminather; editing by Bernadette Baum, Susan Thomas, G Crosse and David Gregorio)