12/04/2013 11:43 EST | Updated 02/03/2014 05:59 EST

Barrick Gold board changes expected today

Barrick Gold Corp. holds a board meeting today that could clarify the retirement plans of chairman Peter Munk.

Barrick said earlier this week that it would make an announcement after Wednesday’s board meeting, but declined comment on speculation that Munk would hand over the chair.

The gold producer has been under pressure from shareholders seeking changes at the board and  signalled Munk may soon be stepping down in a regulatory filing on Nov. 8.

"The company's intention is to update the market before year end on these initiatives, with governance changes expected to take effect in conjunction with Barrick's next annual meeting," Barrick said in a filing.

Munk, 86, is founder of Barrick, but has been criticized for overseeing rich bonuses for executives when company shares have fallen 45 per cent in the past year.

Shareholders have also demanded greater independence on the board.

It is widely expected that Munk’s co-chair, John Thornton, will take on the role and that there will be changes in chief operating officer at the company.

The company is struggling with falling gold prices and with escalating costs at its Pascua-Lama project in South America.

It suspended work at the Pascua-Lama project in November so it could renegotiate contracts with its suppliers at the mine perched high in the Andes.

"We're going to be looking at talking to every one of our contractors about doing things cheaper and more efficiently," chief executive Jamie Sokalsky told an investor conference Tuesday.