Dar es Salaam — Barrick Gold - which jointly owns the three gold mines of Buzwagi, Bulyanhulu and North Mara with the Tanzania government - is now operating with zero net debt as a result of strong 2020 financial performance.
According to the Barrick chief executive officer Mark Bristow, the company was burdened by a total net debt of more than $13 billion as recently as 2013. But, now, it has a zero net debt - and no significant maturities for the next ten years.
In the company's 2021 Information Circular published on their website on Thursday, (April 1, 2021)Mr Bristow said Barrick has also achieved a robust balance sheet, with strong liquidity of $5.2 billion in cash and an undrawn $3 billion credit facility.
"These achievements were produced on the foundation of a solid 10-year plan built on a great asset base, a fit-for-purpose structure and management teams that more than lived up to our 'best people' mantra," he said.
Mr Bristow said the excellent performance was achieved by capitalizing fully on the higher gold price, delivering on the company's production guidance, and thus ending 2020 with one of the industry's strongest balance sheets.
The strong performance would also reflect positively on the share of government's proceeds from the company's investments in the country, after the company formed a joint venture in which the government of Tanzania owned stake in the three mines. Established in 2020, the joint venture Twiga Minerals Corporation was formed to replace Acacia Mining that was accused of tax evasion and operating illegally.
The Tanzanian government owns 16 percent equity in Twiga Minerals.
Barrick agreed to pay $300 million to settle outstanding taxes and other disputes, the lifting of an export ban on concentrates and the sharing of future economic benefits from the mines. The company has already paid $100 million after re-commencement of exports of concentrate stockpiled in Tanzania. The remaining amount will be paid in yearly installments of $50 million.
In the company's statement, Mr Bristow stressed that Barrick is currently well-equipped to find and exploit new opportunities, including any openings offered by the ongoing dynamics of the gold industry.