Barrick Gold CEO: Not enough global supply of copper for ambitious clean energy plans

Aug. 08, 2022 9:26 AM ETBarrick Gold Corporation (GOLD)NEM, FCX, SCCO, GFI, AEM, AU, RIOBy: Brian Stewart, SA News Editor75 Comments

Production of copper wire, cable in reels at factory. Cable factory.

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In the wake of a Street-beating earnings report, Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow said global supplies of copper are currently not enough to keep up with rising long-term demand, especially with an aggressive plan to build out clean energy infrastructure, which require a lot of the industrial metal.

"We don't have enough copper," the head of Barrick Gold (NYSE:GOLD) told CNBC. "We just don't have the copper to support the vision of being a greener planet into the future."

Bristow acknowledged that the price of copper has come well off highs reached earlier in the year, dropping about 30% from its 52-week peak. However, he argued that commodity markets always price in near-term factors, rather than fully computing long-term trends.

"You've seen the copper price come off because it's always short term and what we as miners have to do is look long term," he said.

To meet rising global demand, the Barrick Gold CEO said "we've got to go and look" for more copper reserves but warned that the process will unfold over a long timeline.

"It takes time to bring copper mines into production," he said.

Bristow's remarks followed the release of better-than-expected quarterly results for GOLD. The company's profit rose from last year, thanks in part to increased copper production, which jumped 25%. Gold production was roughly flat with last year's level.

Copper miners have had a volatile year in 2022, whipsawed by shifting moods in commodity markets. The sector showed significant gains early in the year but has dropped lately amid the decline in copper prices.

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) and Southern Copper (SCCO) have both fallen more than 20% for 2022 as a whole. Rio Tinto (RIO) has held up better than its peers, although it has also dipped 8%.

Meanwhile, GOLD has recorded a year-to-date retreat of 15%. This not only outpaces copper mining rivals FCX and SCCO but has come in ahead of a number of top competitors in the gold sector as well.

With gold stocks showing a similar volatility as those aligned with copper, Newmont (NEM) is currently showing a 27% year-to-date loss. AngloGold Ashanti (AU) has fallen 25%, while Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) has retreated 16%. Gold Fields (GFI) is the best performer in this group, dropping 12% so far this year.

For a bullish look at GOLD's prospects, read a deep dive by Seeking Alpha contributor Zoltan Ban, who says the stock could be the "investment opportunity of the year."

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