Freeport CEO Richard Adkerson told Reuters last week that he has no desire to combine Freeport with Barrick or another gold producer, saying such a deal didn't make sense.
"That's Richard's position and I respect that," Bristow said during a webcast at the BMO Capital Markets Metals and Mines conference. "It didn't work out, but it certainly had a lot of logic to it."
Bristow said there is a growing role for copper in Barrick's portfolio but his first priority is to expand assets the Toronto-based miner already owns.
He expressed interest in Freeport last year, but rising copper prices have pushed up the U.S. miner's relative stock market valuation.
Bristow said last month that Barrick had successfully turned around its Lumwana copper mine in Zambia and could be interested in buying a smelter.
(Reporting by Jeff Lewis, Editing by Franklin Paul and Paul Simao)