CAPE TOWN, May 11 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp has
nearly doubled its inventory of some key supplies at mines to
weather the disruptions caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine,
Chief Executive Mark Bristow told Reuters on Wednesday.
The world's second-biggest gold miner used to hold a month's
worth of supplies at mines but tripled its inventory when the
COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.
This year, when it became clear Russia might invade Ukraine,
Barrick ramped inventories up to five months' worth for key
supplies like cyanide, explosives, and steel balls used for
milling, Bristow said.
"We've taken some of the inventory up to five months,
because of the Russian issue," he said in an interview on the
sidelines of the Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town.
Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has caused supply chain
disruptions worldwide and sent gas and metal prices soaring,
Bristow also said he is concerned about fuel shortages.
"Our concern is that we are going to see stock-outs right
across the world, and the impact of that is significant," he
said. "This is not a nice situation."
Rising inflation is impacting consumers and companies alike.
Gold Fields Ltd, for example, on Monday said inflation
is eating into its contingency cost buffer for its biggest
project, Salares Norte in Chile.
China's COVID-19 lockdowns have dampened demand, the Barrick
CEO said, but if the situation there gets back to normal it will
put even more stress on global supply chains.
"We are really investing and making sure we can protect
ourselves as much as possible," he said.
Asked whether Barrick was considering investing in Zambia's
Mopani Copper Mines, Bristow declined to answer, saying only
that he was engaging with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema's
Zambia is looking for an outside investor to reinvigorate
Mopani, which needs a big cash injection to ramp up production.
Bristow said Zambia got "ripped off" when its previous
government took on $1.5 billion in debt to buy Mopani back from
"Glencore sold at a very high price to the state when they
left, and that's a challenge to try and unwind that," Bristow
Glencore declined to comment.
Zambia will have to increase copper production to utilize
its smelting capacity, and make the Mopani and Konkola Copper
Mines smelters more efficient, Bristow said. Barrick's Lumwana
mine in Zambia supplies to both smelters.
Zambia's Hichilema has pledged to more than triple the
country's copper production to 3 million tonnes a year within
the next decade.
(Reporting by Helen Reid in Cape Town
Editing by Marguerita Choy and Paul Simao)