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Barrick Gold CEO shares what he learned about doing business during a disease outbreak

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Key Points
  • Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow told CNBC on Wednesday that it's possible for companies to operate during disease outbreaks if proper precautions are taken. 
  • Barrick's operations were located within close proximity of the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, Bristow said on "Mad Money." 
  • Bristow said the company is taking similar precautions now as the coronavirus spreads. 
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Barrick CEO on lessons from 2014 Ebola crisis and why gold continues to climb

Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow told CNBC on Wednesday that it's possible for companies to operate during disease outbreaks if proper precautions are taken. 

Barrick's operations were located within close proximity of the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, Bristow said on "Mad Money." 

"You can manage this," said Bristow, whose comments were in response to a question from CNBC's Jim Cramer about what companies should know as the coronavirus spreads across the world. 

The outbreak, which began in mainland China, has disrupted commerce in a variety of ways, from shutting down factories to the cancellations of trade shows and travel restrictions. 

Bristow said his company learned a variety of lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak. 

"What that's taught us is how to manage these situations and the importance of knowing where people have come from, making sure that we attend to hygiene and that we control the access of people into our operations," Bristow said. 

Even more importantly, Bristow said Barrick learned how to manage "the logistics and the inventory of our critical consumables and those hard-moving items." 

Bristow said these lessons have continued to benefit Barrick not only due to the coronavirus but also because of the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

"You can be rest assured that the whole of Barrick across the globe looks like our assets used to look like in West Africa when that first outbreak happened," Bristow said. 

Shares of Toronto-based Barrick closed Wednesday at $20.55, down .34% for the session. The stock, like the broader market, has fallen in recent days as fears around the coronavirus accelerate. 

Barrick hit its 52-week high of $22.57 on Feb. 24 before falling down around $18. The stock has steadily moved to the upside since then and, at its current level, sits up 64% in the past 12 months. 

Bristow also said he thinks gold remains an attractive investment, particularly in an environment rattled by coronavirus fears.

Spot gold ended Wednesday basically flat at  $1,639.85 per ounce while  U.S. gold futures moved .2% lower to $1,640.50. Gold on Tuesday saw its strongest performance since June 2016 after the Federal Reserve issued an emergency interest rate cut, citing the possibility of economic disruption from the coronavirus.  

"In the global economy there's a nervousness," Bristow said. "We might not be at the top of the market, but we're a lot closer to the top than the bottom, and people need to have a bit of insurance." 

VIDEO8:0408:04
Barrick CEO shares lessons from the 2014 Ebola crisis and explains why gold prices continue to climb

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