Home  >  Operations  >  Reko Diq  >  Comments at Barrick’s 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Comments at Barrick’s 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Comments at Barrick’s 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders

June 5, 2023

Barrick is aware of social media postings concerning a statement made by Mark Bristow, Barrick’s President and Chief Executive Officer, during the question and answer portion of Barrick’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders (the Meeting) on May 2, 2023, regarding the Reko Diq project. Specifically, it has been claimed that Mr. Bristow responded to comments made by Mr. Lateef Johar, a self-described human rights activist from the Province of Balochistan, in a racist manner by telling him to “go back to Balochistan.”

Mr. Bristow’s statement must be considered in its proper context. Mr. Bristow called on Mr. Johar to ask the very first question at the Meeting. Notably, Mr. Bristow called on Mr. Johar even though he had no obligation to do so, and even though he knew Mr. Johar’s question was unlikely to be friendly. Then, for nearly four minutes, Mr. Bristow listened patiently while Mr. Johar proceeded to state his views on the Reko Diq project, questioning the legitimacy of agreements that were negotiated and finalized with the central government in Pakistan and the provincial government of Balochistan, while making allegations of human rights violations supposedly committed not by Barrick, but instead by the central government. When Mr. Johar finished speaking, Mr. Bristow responded thoughtfully to the various points he raised (Mr. Bristow’s response to Mr. Johar begins approximately 19 minutes and 30 seconds into the Meeting). In doing so, Mr. Bristow highlighted Barrick’s commitment to developing Reko Diq for the benefit of the people of Pakistan, and particularly for the people of Balochistan. Mr. Bristow also rebutted Mr. Johar’s incorrect assertions concerning the legitimacy of the agreements by noting that the final agreements with the governments of Pakistan and Balochistan had been submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which reviewed them in an open and transparent process that involved several weeks of hearings, and judged them to be legal and valid before the legislation authorizing this important project was passed into law. In addition, Mr. Bristow emphasized the strong local support for the development of the Reko Diq project that he witnessed for himself while visiting surrounding communities in Balochistan.

Although Mr. Bristow extended Mr. Johar the courtesy of asking his lengthy question without interruption, Mr. Johar did not return the courtesy. Regrettably, Mr. Johar interrupted Mr. Bristow on several occasions and became increasingly aggressive in doing so. Mr. Bristow responded by stating “Sir, you’ve had your say. This is not an argument. You asked me a question. I’m setting the record straight.” Mr. Bristow then suggested that, as Mr. Johar appeared to be unfamiliar with the details of the Reko Diq agreements and the process that led to their approval with strong local and governmental support, Mr. Johar would be well served to undertake further research. Mr. Bristow specifically invited Mr. Johar to “make arrangements through the offices of Barrick, and we will have somebody have a conversation with you.”

Instead of accepting this invitation, Mr. Johar stated that Mr. Bristow was “distorting the information” and “lying to your shareholders” and that Mr. Bristow’s comments were “crap”. He even claimed that Mr. Bristow was “killing my people.” In addition to being completely false, inappropriate and irresponsible, Mr. Johar’s comments disrupted the Meeting and prevented other stakeholders from asking their own questions. As a result, Mr. Bristow invited Mr. Johar to leave. Ultimately, Mr. Johar agreed to do so. As Mr. Johar was leaving the Meeting, Mr. Bristow urged him to “go back to Balochistan.” Mr. Bristow’s comment was clearly intended as an invitation for Mr. Johar to educate himself about the level of local support for the Reko Diq project in Balochistan by visiting the project in person and having a conversation with Barrick personnel. His comment was absolutely not intended as a racist insult as has been mistakenly suggested.

After Mr. Johar left the Meeting, Mr. Bristow spent over 20 minutes responding to additional questions posed by shareholders and guests in the Meeting room and online on a number of topics, including concerning claims of environmental pollution and alleged violations of indigenous and human rights supposedly caused by Barrick. Mr. Bristow listened respectfully to each of these questions. Just as he did with Mr. Johar, he responded to them in detail, clarifying the facts and articulating Barrick’s commitment to protecting human rights and the environment while supporting the socioeconomic development of our host countries and surrounding communities in the areas of our mines. Barrick considers interactions like these to be an important aspect of our overall approach to stakeholder engagement, and the Company has gone to great lengths to create opportunities for open and honest communications. They are an integral part of Barrick’s DNA.

Mr. Bristow has worked in the mining business in various parts of Africa for over 30 years, as well as in numerous other countries around the world. There is no one in the industry who has done more to promote the health, well-being and prosperity of local populations affected by mining, including by ensuring they have the first opportunities for employment and career advancement, as well as access to education, health care, food and clean drinking water. Mr. Bristow has taken on a leadership position in the industry in an effort to ensure that host countries and local populations share equitably in the many benefits mining can bring. That is precisely what he and Barrick intend with respect to the Reko Diq project and why that project has been embraced by communities that surround it, contrary to the various statements made by Mr. Johar at the Meeting. Mr. Bristow is not racist in any way, and any suggestion to the contrary is entirely unfair and inappropriate.

We invite you to visit https://www.barrick.com/English/investors/agm to view the entirety of the Meeting, including the complete question and answer session. We hope that viewers will come away with a better understanding of Mr. Bristow and his approach to stakeholder engagement and sustainable development.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact us directly by emailing investor@barrick.com or by calling 1-800-720-7415 (toll free in North America) or 416 861-9911 (collect).