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Barrick Gold swings to US$314M net loss in Q4'17

Barrick Gold Corp. booked a net loss of US$314 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, swinging from a year-ago profit of US$425 million.

Earlier in February, the company said it expected to book an estimated pretax impairment of US$429 million at the Pascua Lama project in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Meanwhile, full-year net earnings rose year over year to US$1.44 billion from US$655 million in 2016, according to the company's Feb. 14 results.

The significant improvement was primarily due to US$2.03 billion in impairment reversals and gains on sale related to the divestment of the 50% stake in Veladero and the 25% stake in Cerro Casale in 2017, partially offset by net impairment charges of US$908 million mainly relating to Acacia Mining plc's Bulyanhulu mine, which has been placed on reduced operations, and the impairment on Pascua Lama.

Revenue in the fourth quarter declined to US$2.23 billion from US$2.32 billion, with full-year revenue sliding to US$8.37 billion from US$8.56 billion.

The company's fourth-quarter gold production totaled 1.34 million ounces at all-in sustaining costs, or AISC, of US$756 per ounce, compared to the production of 1.52 million gold ounces at AISC of US$732 per ounce. Copper output also fell year over year to 99 million pounds at AISC of US$2.51 per pound from 101 million pounds at AISC of US$2.04 per pound.

For full year 2017, the company produced 5.32 million ounces of gold and 413 million pounds of copper, down from 5.51 million gold ounces and 415 million ounces of copper in 2016.

The company lowered its 2018 production guidance to between 4.5 million and 5.0 million ounces of gold from the previous forecast of between 4.8 million and 5.3 million ounces of gold. AISC is expected to range between US$765 and US$815 per ounce. The company's average annual gold production between 2019 and 2022 is expected to range between 4.2 million and 4.6 million ounces at AISC of between US$750 and US$875 per ounce.

Copper production is now expected to range between 385 million and 450 million pounds at AISC of between US$2.30 and US$2.60 per share in 2018, compared to the previous annual forecast of between 420 million and 440 million pounds at AISC of between US$2.20 and US$2.40 per pound.

Total attributable capital expenditures for 2018 are expected to be in the range of US$1.40 billion and US$1.60 billion.

The company slashed its total debt by 19% or US$1.51 billion in 2017, exceeding its target of US$1.45 billion. Barrick aims to bring down its total debt to around US$5 billion by the end of 2018.

Barrick, in a separate same-day release, declared a quarterly dividend of 3 cents per share, payable March 15 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Feb. 28.