Barrick Gold to record up to $3B in asset writedowns

TORONTO - Barrick Gold shares were lower in pre-market trading, following its advance notice of a US$3-billion asset writedown.

Barrick (TSX:ABX) says it will be writing down the value of its stalled Pascua-Lama mining project on the border of Chile and Argentina and its Pueblo Viejo gold operation in Dominican Republic by a total of between US$1 billion and and US$1.2 billion.

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It will also reduce the value of goodwill - an intangible asset related to some of its past acquisitions - by about US$1.8 billion.

The Toronto-based company - one of the world's largest gold producers - says it will provide an update on the writedowns on Feb. 17 when it reports detailed financial and operating results for the year ended Dec. 31.

The write downs are non-cash items that reflect the reduced long-term value of the assets.

Its shares closed in Toronto on Thursday at C$11.90 and in New York at US$8.32 before the announcement. The U.S.-listed shares were down three per cent from that level in extended trading before markets reopened Friday morning.

Barrick also announced Thursday that it produced about 6.12 million ounces of gold and 511 million pounds of copper last year, both within Barrick's expectations.

It got about US$1.105 per ounce on average for the gold sold in the fourth quartr and US$1,157 per ounce for the year. For the coming year, however, Barrick assumes its realized price for gold will drop to US$1,000 per ounce in 2016.



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