TORONTO - Barrick Gold Inc. (TSX:ABX) is laying off about 100 corporate staff, mostly from its Toronto headquarters, as it struggles with falling gold prices and a number of internal challenges.
The jobs that are being cut represent about 30 per cent of the total corporate office positions for the Toronto-based mining company, which is the world's largest gold producer.
Most of jobs are at Barrick's head office in Toronto, but some are at its regional offices. An email from Barrick's spokesman says staff at a Barrick office in Salt Lake City, Utah, may also be affected.
The company advised staff last week that the layoffs were coming.
The cuts affect a small portion of the 25,000 employees that Barrick has worldwide but represent its ongoing efforts to streamline during a period of falling gold prices and internal challenges, including mounting costs at its Pascua-Lama project in South America and losses at its copper business in Africa.
The company's chief executive promised shareholders in April that Barrick was committed to producing returns for investors.
Barrick also said its capital spending this year would be reduced by about half a billion dollars to between $5.2 billion and $5.7 billion — down from the previous budget of $5.7 billion to $6.3 billion.
Barrick has reduced exploration spending to a range of between $300 million and $340 million, which is $100 million lower than before.
The company vowed to make changes in the way it does business after a massive writedown primarily related to its copper mine in Zambia pushed the miner to a loss of US$3.06 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012.
As well, African Barrick Gold (LSE:ABG) suffered a net loss of just under US$46 million during the fourth quarter as a major increase in its cost of sales more than offset slightly higher revenues.
Barrick holds a 73.9 per cent interest in the company, which was formed when the Canadian gold miner spun off its African operations in March 2010.
In January, talks aimed at the potential sale of African Barrick Gold to a Chinese company, called CNG, ended without a deal.
In South America, the company is coping with a setback at its Pascua-Lama megaproject, which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina.
The project will be delayed past the second half of 2014, when the company had previously expected to get the megaproject into production, due to Chilean court- and government-ordered suspensions to deal with environmental impacts.
The company said the delay is expected to result in a higher price tag for the massive project, which is currently estimated to cost US$8.5 billion.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the writedown involved African Barrick Gold.