Consolidation Continues in the Gold Mining Industry
Dominating gold headlines early this year was the news of Barrick Gold’s $17.8 billion hostile takeover of longtime rival Newmont Mining that unsurprisingly failed. Instead of battling it out in the capital markets, the two gold mining giants decided to enter a joint venture (JV) in Nevada, where both have significant operations. The JV will combine several deposits and mines, processing facilities and infrastructure to unlock significant synergies.
As a standalone company, the Nevada complex will be the world’s single-largest gold producing operations, according to equity research firm GMP Securities. Nevada, by the way, is the top gold producing state in the U.S., responsible for nearly three quarters of annual output. If it were its own country, Nevada would be the fourth largest gold producer in the world, thanks to its prolific Carlin Trend deposits.
Nevada Would Be the Fourth Largest Gold Producer in the World
It’s within these monumental goldfields that the Barrick-Newmont JV will be operating, with control over as many as three Tier 1 mines, or those that typically produce 500,000 ounces of gold or more annually. That is significant.
The JV ownership will be 61.5 percent Barrick and 38.5 percent Newmont, with Barrick acting as the main operator. The board will consist of three Barrick representatives and two Newmont representatives.
The “Walmart” of the Mining World
What’s really exciting, we think, is that the synergies are projected to come partly from optimized mining and processing and partly from supply chain and indirect costs. The company is expected to become the “Walmart” of the mining world, with the muscle to negotiate better prices on tractors, haulers and other equipment. The synergies are estimated to help save as much as $500 million in the first five years alone, according to GMP, but we believe it could be much more than that.
It’s hard not to see this as positive for the capital markets. The Barrick-Newmont JV is about trying to drive down costs in order to sustain the overall production profiles of these two mega gold miners.
Gold Accounted for Half of World Exploration Budgets
The Barrick-Newmont deal is just the latest in what we believe is an ongoing trend of industry consolidation as well as rising exploration budgets. Barrick purchased London-based Randgold Resources back in September, while Newmont is working on a merger with Goldcorp. Australia’s Newcrest Mining just bought a majority interest in Imperial Metals’ Red Chris copper and gold mine, located in British Columbia, Canada, and is now in the process of inking a $65 million JV deal with Greatland Gold.
We view these deals as a sign that miners anticipate a bull run in gold prices. Better to spend the money now when valuations are attractive rather than later when companies could be much more expensive. During the last bull market in gold prices, many mining executives ended up losing their jobs because they entered deals when valuations were overextended.