B2Gold keen on any African assets new Barrick may sell - CEO

TORONTO, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Canada’s B2Gold Corp is interested in any West African assets that Barrick Gold Corp may put up for sale after its acquisition of African miner Randgold Resources Ltd, B2Gold’s chief executive said.

B2Gold, whose stock rose as much as 3 percent on Friday following better-than-expected quarterly production results, is “definitely interested” in any projects considered noncore under the new Barrick, CEO Clive Johnson said in an interview.

Under Barrick’s $6.1 billion all-stock deal to buy Randgold, the companies have said they will focus on their biggest and best assets globally and consider selling others.

“If there are opportunities in West Africa that don’t perhaps fit the new Barrick model, in terms of the size of project, or other things, then we’d be keen to look,” Johnson said late on Thursday.

Ideally, the Vancouver-based miner wants projects it can develop to produce about 200,000 ounces of gold annually for at least 10 years, as opposed to already-built mines. It seeks investments with an approximate 20 percent rate of return at gold prices of $1,200-$1,250 an ounce, Johnson said.

Randgold has mines and projects in Mali, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal, while Barrick has mines in Tanzania and Zambia.

Johnson does not expect Barrick’s acquisition to spark other such transactions and said B2Gold has not been approached by any larger miners interested in taking it over.

“I think it will be pretty unlikely for a big company to come and make a premium offer for a company like ours,” he said. “People have memories of the last 15 years - we’ve seen so many deals done where they’ve become negative.”

B2Gold itself is open to making acquisitions, after being on the sidelines since its $570 million stock purchase of Australia’s Papillon Resources in late 2014, he said.

That deal landed Fekola, a large, low-cost mine in Mali that helped B2Gold forecast total output at the high end of a 920,000-960,000 ounce range.

“We’re going to come out in a few weeks and announce to the world that we think that Fekola’s geologic resource is a lot bigger than we bought and therefore there’s this potential to expand,” Johnson said.

At the end of 2017, there were probable reserves of 2.92 million ounces of gold at the mine. B2Gold is also studying a plan to expand the mine and mill.

B2Gold also five operating mines, two development projects and exploration in Mali, Burkina Faso, Namibia, Nicaragua, Colombia and the Philippines (Reporting by Susan Taylor in Toronto Editing by Matthew Lewis)