The world's largest gold-mining company is about to take on an entirely new look. Barrick Gold Corp. (TSE:ABX) this week will get a new chairman for the first time in 30 years, as well as a new chief operating officer. And come spring, at least two directors will step down and independent directors will be seated as the company explores a partnership with China's largest sovereign wealth fund.

On Thursday, Barrick's board will elect former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) president John Thornton, 59, as chairman. Currently co-chair, Thornton will be Barrick's first chairman since the Toronto-based mining company was founded in 1983 by Peter Munk, who turned it into the world's largest gold producer. Munk is now 86 and announced his planned resignation some time ago.

Barrick will also name a chief operating officer, a post that has been vacant for months, Reuters said. 

Thornton, who already oversees Barrick's long-term planning, is working to establish partnerships with Chinese companies. Barrick has talked with China Investment Corp., the nation's largest sovereign wealth fund, about partnering in mining ventures. Such ventures could include co-developing and co-financing massive projects such as Barrick's currently stalled Pascua-Lama project in South America.