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Barrick Gold posts huge loss, says mining costs rising

Three .9999 fine gold bars, each weighing 400 troy ounces or 28 lbs, on display at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC on on August 27, 2012

The world's largest gold miner, Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp., announced Thursday massive losses while forecasting rising costs and less gold to dig for profitably.

The miner reported a fourth-quarter loss of $2.83 billion, or $2.61 per share, bringing its total losses in 2013 to $10.37 billion.

Like other mining companies recently, it posted large write-downs related to a drop in commodity prices following boom years that encouraged them to make pricey acquisitions.

Barrack halted construction of its Pascua Lama mine after huge delays and cost overruns, and retooled three mines in Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea, which primarily led to impairment charges of $2.82 billion.

But this trend is ending, according to Barrick chief executive Jamie Sokalsky.

"Under a comprehensive plan to strengthen the company, we have become a leaner, more agile organization, better protected against further downside price risk and well positioned to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities going forward," he said in a statement.

At the same time, the company estimated its costs to produce an ounce of gold would rise to between $920 and $980 this year, up from $915 in 2013.

In addition, Barrick downgraded its gold reserves -- the amount it believes it can economically mine -- to 104.1 million ounces from 140.2 million ounces.

On Wednesday, fellow Canadian gold miners Kinross Gold Corp. and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. also posted write-downs and reduced their reserves.

Vancouver-based Goldcorp meanwhile announced record gold production of 768,900 ounces in the fourth quarter but also posted a $2.7 billion loss for the year. It blamed declining gold prices and impairment charges,too.

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