Barrick Gold Corp said on Monday that Jim Gowans, a veteran miner and one of its co-presidents, was retiring and that he would not be replaced, as the miner moves to thin out its ranks and create a leaner operating structure.
In the latest reshuffle, Kelvin Dushnisky, who has served as co-president with Gowans for a year, has been named as president and will continue to report to Executive Chair John Thornton, a former Goldman Sachs executive.
Toronto-based Barrick said Gowans would step down as co-president immediately, but stay on as an adviser to the chairman until he retires at the end of the year.
Analysts said the exit of Gowans, who has four decades of industry experience, leaves a void of first-hand mining know-how in Barrick’s senior ranks.
“The loss of a senior executive with the mining experience of Jim Gowans does reduce the ‘bench strength’ of the overall management team,” noted Barclays analyst Farooq Hamed in a note to clients on Monday.
Barrick said the move is a continuation of its strategy of putting more responsibility in the hands of its mine managers.
“As we become leaner, more efficient and more keenly focused on a smaller number of core assets, we’re empowering our leaders in the field to function as true business owners,” said Thornton in a statement.
Dushnisky joined Barrick in 2002 and served as co-president with Gowans for a year, prior to that he headed the company’s government relations, investor relations and communications.
Barrick eliminated the chief executive role and solidified Thornton’s position within the company last year, after former CEO Jamie Sokalsky left the company.
Richard Williams, previously the company’s chief of staff, has been named chief operating officer, while Basie Maree, most recently head of technical services, has been appointed chief technical officer. The appointments are effective immediately.
Barrick noted that Maree has extensive mining experience and will work closely with Williams.
Williams, who joined Barrick less than a year ago, served in the British Army for about 20 years. He was a commander with the Special Air Service, Britain’s special forces unit, and did brief stints as an adviser at the UK-based hedge fund Lansdowne Partners before joining Barrick.
BMO analyst Andrew Kaip said Williams, who has worked closely with Gowans for months, will bring strong process and implementation skills given his background.
Despite that, Kaip expects “some trepidation as investors become accustomed to the current changes.”