Toronto-based Barrick Gold announced that its president and CEO Jamie Sokalsky will be stepping down effective September 15. A 20-year Barrick veteran, Sokalsky, who was CFO at the time, replaced Aaron Regent as CEO during June 2012. The company credited Sokalsky for introducing a strategy to prioritize returns and free cash flow over production growth, and leading a company-wide portfolio optimization program during his tenure as CEO.

Kelvin Dushnisky, currently senior executive vice president responsible for corporate and government affairs and chairman for African Barrick Gold plc, and Jim Gowans, currently executive vice president and COO, will be appointed co-presidents. This model, according to a company statement, “reflects the interconnected nature, and strategic importance of jointly managing day-to-day mining operations, and the company’s relationships with host governments, local communities and other external stakeholders.”

Ammar Al-Joundi will be promoted to senior executive vice president and CFO. Darian Rich will become executive vice president, talent management.

“These structural changes put an even greater emphasis on operational excellence, and will accelerate our portfolio optimization and cost reduction initiatives, while fostering a partnership culture both inside the company and externally,” said John Thornton, chairman, Barrick Gold.