(Bloomberg) — Merger mania swept the gold-mining industry in 2019 with more than $33 billion worth of deals being inked. While trade fears lit a fire under bullion prices, they created headwinds for base-metals miners.Whats ahead in 2020? In our fourth annual mining executive year-ender, we asked the heads of some of the biggest producers for their outlooks. Based on interviews with miners including Barrick Gold Corp., Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Newmont Goldcorp Corp., readers should expect a big focus on environmental, social and governance issues — and more consolidation.Mark Bristow, BarrickGold has never, since the Bretton Woods agreement, been in such a good place.MARKET:Negative interest rates and looming global gold-production declines support $1,400-$1,500/oz pricesSECTOR:More mining consolidation is still needed, especially in the gold sectorESG:Industry oversold because of ESG concernsMiners need to be more accountable and highlight responsible developmentJust look out your window. If you took away everything that was mined you would just have a heap of rubble. And we, the mining industry, are very unlovedHIS COMPANY:The priority is replacing and adding resources to ensure the companys future beyond 10 yearsOnce thats done, more generalists will come into the stockBarrick can also look at long-term dividends once a 10-year plan is in placeMy objective is to get to a proper dividend policyI think theres a place for share buybacks, but theyre challenging in the gold industry because bullion producers already trade at a premiumHeaded for zero net debt in 2020, Barrick has plenty of cash to support ambitionsFreeport is on its radar — but Barrick has no plans to rush into anything and would never go hostileREAD MORE: Barrick CEO Says He Has Plenty of Financial Firepower for DealsRichard Adkerson, FreeportWe went to war together, we won the war, and now were moving forward.MARKET:U.S. tariffs on China knocked copper back since June 2018, with Brexit and weak U.S. manufacturing acting as additional headwindsDespite this, prices have been resilient and inventories of the key metal arent growingHigher prices are likely if trade tensions are resolvedSECTOR:Production has been constrained; higher copper prices are required for new mines to be builtResource nationalism remains a challengeDisruptions around income disparity, such as those that triggered Chiles recent protests, are on the riseM&A is likely in the sector longer-term, but requires clarity on copper priceInstitutional memory of poor deals in the past remains an impedimentESG:ESG concerns are an industry challenge; the public discourse is risingThose sorts of issues are many times more challenging than the really challenging technical issues we faceHIS COMPANY:After tough years in Indonesia, which he likened to a war, Freeport is focused on the transition to underground operations at the Grasberg depositWithin two years, cash flow should double and production surgeOnce that happens, the miner expects to use cash to cut debt and boost shareholder returns through dividends or stock buybacksThe Lone Star project in Arizona will produce first copper in 2020Adkerson has no plans to retireREAD MORE: Freeport CEO Says Nows Not the Time for Miner to Consider DealsTom Palmer, NewmontWere starting to see increasing expectations for transparency on (ESG) performance, not just at the portfolio level but going right down to the site level.MARKET:Geopolitical instability and declining global gold reserves may support robust gold prices over the medium termLike Barrick and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., Newmont assumes $1,200/oz gold for planning purposesSECTOR:Palmer expects more consolidation of single-asset gold producers in 2020Gold mega-mergers, like those in the first half of 2019, are unlikelyESG:The biggest challenge in 2020 for the gold-mining industry is likely to be ESGSo far, Palmer doesnt think ESG ratings correlate with stock liquidity, but thats the direction things are movingIts a topic of conversation at just about every meeting we haveHIS COMPANY:Having merged with Goldcorp and completed a JV with Barrick in Nevada, and then sold $1.4 billion in assets, the focus for 2020 is delivering value on the remaining portfolioThose two transactions really set Newmont up for the next several decadesNo pressure to do M&A, but company will remain opportunistic and selective if the right buying opportunity appearsInvesting in the project pipeline and keeping a strong balance sheet are top prioritiesIf the gold price stays elevated, Newmont is more likely to use dividends than buybacks to reward shareholders in 2020; this months buyback was a unique opportunityJV with Barrick in Nevada should have been done years agoClive Newall First QuantumThe days of great big diesel trucks thundering around mines are going to be over very shortly.MARKET:First Quantums president says the physical copper market has been strongHe expects prices to hold in the $2.50-$3.00/lb range for 2020SECTOR:Pent-up demand, and cash, could spark mergers in the sectorMajors are awash with cash and China Inc. is becoming more interestedIt just takes one deal to start a rush: Nobody wants to be first out of the gateESG:Everyone in the industry is grappling with decarbonization issues, including water shortagesVictoria Falls has dried up to almost a trickle. Its impacting the industry wherever you operate pretty much, and were all having to adjust accordinglyHIS COMPANY:Deleveraging is the focus for next 2-3 yearsWe want to reduce our debt by at least $2 billion before we think about doing anything elseThe miner wont do large acquisitions and will only sell minority stakes in assetsTakeover talk is just scuttlebutt, but if theres an offer, the company will resistREAD MORE: First Quantum Says No Takeover Bid from Rio Tinto or JiangxiSean Boyd, AgnicoI think what investors want to see is just continued conservatism in how companies are calculating reserves, which really drives the mine plans, which really drives the prospects for the business.MARKET:Gold has been in a bull market since 2015Retracement of the price since September is healthy; fundamentals are strongThe $1,480/oz range for gold is impressive given the record high stock marketBoyd expects gold to breach $1,550/oz next year and to test new high around $2,000/oz in 2-3 yearsSECTOR:The greatest challenge for the industry is replenishing reservesGrowth is tough, but to grow in a way where youre actually improving the quality of your underlying business is extremely difficultInvestors want the industry to use a conservative gold price in 2020 to count reservesMore consolidation is needed and likelyIts extremely difficult to get capital to fund smaller and mid-tier businessesESG:Agnico launched an advocacy campaign to articulate the benefits of miningWe see a bit of a vacuum in the Canadian mining space. The country used to be in a leadership positionAdvocacy is important, post-federal election, to help shape resource policyHIS COMPANY:Despite the recent wave of mergers, Agnico is under no pressure to do dealsNot looking over shoulder for takeovers; the miner trades at a premium and its tough for competitors to argue they can run the assets betterAgnico just hiked its dividend; has debt coming due in AprilWith Nunavut mines built, the focus will be on generating free cash flow to reinvest in the business, pay down debt and hike dividendsWere going to do all of those thingsDon Lindsay, TeckOne of best cures for low commodity prices is, of course, low commodity prices. Coal prices have been low for a few months now.MARKETS:ZincNegative sentiment is overwhelming the fundamentalsWe know that a number of people are losing money now at these pricesGiven Chinas crackdown on polluters, the market is overestimating how much zinc concentrate will be turned into refined metalWe think that the market is going to be much tighter than people expectLindsay expects stable or higher prices, but group sentiment could prove him wrongCopperCopper fundamentals are also good but the price is unlikely to hit $3.50/lb anytime soonA $2.80-$3/lb range is most likely for 2020Metallurgical coalPrices should start to pick up given marginal producers cant access capital and are starting to shut downUnbelievable strength in China steel production and falling inventories should provide price support into next yearSECTORInvestors dont feel they have to own mining shares yet; thats unlikely to change in 2020 given most expect weak growthESG:Good ESG ratings dont seem to boost valuations, but a bad rating can make investors shun a stock completelyTecks ratings are good but it has to keep improving: The bar keeps getting raisedHIS COMPANY:Teck has plenty of liquidity and no significant debt due until 2035; announced stock buybacks will continueLindsay is encouraged by the sales process for Zafranal, but wouldnt comment furtherOn M&A: Were not looking to buy anything, thats for sure, and we havent started any process on selling any of the other satellite projects yetNext asset to shed would be San Nicolas in Mexico, but not until prefeasibility is done in six monthsCanadian federal government has to make a decision on the Frontier oil-sands project by the end of FebruaryTo contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Bochove in Toronto at o contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at , Steven Frank, Joe RichterFor more articles like this, please visit us at ©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Barrick Gold Corporation (GOLD)(ABX.TO) today announced that the Pueblo Viejo power plant is expected to receive its first natural gas in Q1 2020 in a move that will lower greenhouse gas emissions and cut costs, in line with the Groups clean and efficient energy strategy. Pueblo Viejo entered into a 10-year supply agreement with AES Andrs DR, SA in May 2018 for the provision of natural gas and the construction of a gas pipeline from the AES gas terminal to the Quisqueya I power plant for the mine.

Today well evaluate Barrick Gold Corporation (TSE:ABX) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment…