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Barrick Gold CEO Jamie Sokalsky to step down

David Cooper | Toronto Star | Getty Images

Barrick Gold Corp said on Wednesday that Chief Executive Officer Jamie Sokalsky would step down on Sept. 15, a move likely to put more power into the hands of the miner's new executive chairman, John Thornton.

Thornton, who earlier this year took the reins from Barrick founder and long-time chairman Peter Munk, has already been driving many of the company's major moves in recent months, from an ill-fated attempt to merge with rival Newmont Mining Corp to its recently announced joint venture with Saudi Arabian Mining Co.

"The perception of investors was that there were internal management conflicts between the board and the executive team," said Josh Wolfson, a gold analyst at Dundee Securities.

"Now there is no question on who is in control."

The world's largest gold miner named Kelvin Dushnisky, senior executive vice president for corporate and government affairs, and Chief Operation Officer Jim Gowans as co-presidents with overall responsibility for execution of the company's strategic priorities and operating plans. Barrick did not say whether it would hire a new CEO.

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The miner said the co-president approach recognized the importance of jointly managing daily mining operations and relationships with governments, local communities and other external stakeholders.

Chief Financial Officer Ammar Al-Joundi adds the role of senior executive vice president and will work with the chairman on the development and execution of strategic initiatives, Toronto-based Barrick said.

Sokalsky, a long-time Barrick hand, took on the role of CEO two years ago when the company was going through a rough patch and played a key role in steadying the ship.

Barrick was at the time hit by spiraling project costs and weighed down by a mountain of debt. Sokalsky moved to mothball certain projects, sell non-core assets and raise over $3 billion via an equity offering.

Shares in Barrick were up 1.3 percent at $18.58 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

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