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Barrick Fined $16 Million by SMA

Zacks Equity Research

Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX) received a resolution from Chile's Superintendence of the Environment (SMA) that imposed a fine of about $16 million on the gold miner for not meeting the environmental control measures at its Pascua-Lama project.

Barrick did not abide by the environmental standards which eventually led the Chilean government to bring the construction on the Chilean side of the project to a halt. The SMA requires that Barrick should complete Pascua-Lama's water management system in accordance with the project's environmental permit before resuming construction activities in Chile.

Barrick is currently reviewing the SMA resolution in detail and is committed to complying with all the aspects of the resolution and to operate at the highest environmental standards.

Barrick’s Pascua-Lama project is expected to be one of the world’s largest and lowest cost mines in the coming years. It is anticipated that it will generate significant free cash flow for the company. With a life expectancy of 25 years, Pascua-Lama’s estimated annual gold and silver production in the first five years may vary between 800,000 and 850,000 ounces and 35 million ounces, respectively.

Last month Barrick released its first quarter 2013 results. The company’s adjusted earnings (excluding one-time items) fell to 92 cents per share in the first quarter of 2013 from $1.10 per share in the year-ago quarter, but were ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 86 cents.

On a reported basis, net earnings came in at $847 million or 85 cents per share, a roughly 18% fall from earnings of $1.04 billion or $1.04 per share recorded in the year-ago quarter. Lower gold and copper prices and reduced sales volumes weighed on the bottom line.

Revenues fell 5.7% year over year to $3,437 million in the reported quarter and missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3,649 million. Average realized price of gold decreased 3.7% year over year to $1,629 per ounce.

Total cash costs increased 3.9% to $561 per ounce while all in sustaining costs crept up 1.1% to $919 per ounce in the reported quarter.
Barrick currently retains a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Other companies in the mining industry with favorable Zacks Rank are Sibanye Gold Limited (SBGL), Xstrata plc (XSRAY) and Lake Shore Gold Corp. (LSG). All of them retain a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).


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