Barrick cuts jobs, warns more will go

With analysts warning the gold price could fall even lower, gold miners are facing increasingly tougher times.

Barrick Gold is warning its Australian workforce to brace itself for extensive job losses over the coming months after cutting 60 workers from its Western Australian operations.

The world’s largest gold miner yesterday laid off 22 workers from its Kanowna operation east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the West Australian reports.

Earlier this week the miner notified 35 staff at its global greenfields exploration unit that their positions would be moved from Perth to Canada, and although presented with redeployment opportunities most of the affected workers are expected to quit the company.

The job cuts at Kanowna were largely support and administrative roles, with a spokesperson confirming the layoffs equated to about 5 per cent of the operations total workforce.

The Kanowna operations employ about 520 people and includes three gold mines – Kanowna Belle, Raleigh, and Rubicon-Hornet.

Last month a senior Barrick executive told a number of supervisors and managers that the company could be forced to close the Kanowna Belle underground mine if the gold price continues to drop.

Managers have since been instructed to deliver further cost savings as the miner prepares for a softer gold price.

In April Australian Mining reported the company is rumoured to be looking at selling off three of its WA gold mines namely its Yilgarn South assets, which comprise of the Darlot, Granny Smith, and Lawlers mines.

Australia wide Barrick employs about 2500 people and is also the operator of Cowal mine in NSW, and under a joint venture agreement with Newmont Mining it runs to Kalgoorlie Superpit which is also under cost review.

Barrick has not confirmed exact job loss figures as potential cost savings were still being reviewed but affected workers are likely to be advised over the next few weeks.

In May Northern Star Resources managing director Bill Beament called for the gold sector to reinvent itself, amidst falling prices and increasing operational costs.

 Beament warned investors will continue to leave WA unless drastic measures are taken, saying the heat is on the gold sector.

"Conditions are a lot worse than people in this room actually realise at the moment," he said.

"There has been a massive exodus, particularly from the US funds, out of the gold sector and I think we have lost touch with our investors."

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.