Picture: BLOOMBERG/NADINE HUTTON
Picture: BLOOMBERG/NADINE HUTTON

Vancouver — Barrick Gold, the world’s second-largest gold producer, has studied a bid for Newmont Mining as the Canadian mining company looks for ways to boost production, people familiar with the matter said.

Barrick has looked on and off at the feasibility of an offer for Newmont for some time, including in recent months, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

One possibility that Barrick has studied would involve teaming up with a partner, such as Newcrest Mining, in a bid for Newmont, the people said. It is unclear if Barrick is considering any transaction, the people said.

Greenwood Village, Colorado-based Newmont has a market value of almost $19bn. Newmont’s shares climbed 3.3% before regular trading in New York on Friday, while Barrick slipped.

Joint venture

In 2014 Barrick and Newmont were close to a merger before talks broke down at the last minute over disagreements on the terms of the deal. Separately Barrick and Newmont have also previously discussed a joint venture for their Nevada operations, said the people.

Newcrest has also held conversations about transactions with Barrick, Goldcorp and Nevsun Resources in the past year before those miners opted for other deals, the people said.

Representatives for Barrick, Newcrest and Newmont declined to comment. Representatives for Goldcorp and Nevsun did nott immediately return calls seeking comment outside regular business hours.

Gold-sector consolidation will likely be a hot topic when industry executives meet next week at BMO Capital Markets’s Global Metals & Mining Conference in Hollywood, Florida.

Newmont agreed last month to buy Goldcorp in an all-stock deal valued at $10bn. That purchase is set to be the largest gold mining deal in history and would secure Newmont’s lead over Toronto-based Barrick as the largest producer.

John Thornton, the former Goldman Sachs banker who is executive chairman of Barrick, is working to revamp a company that for years was mired in debt from investing in a copper miner at the height of the commodity supercycle. The firm agreed to buy Randgold Resources last year for about $5.4bn, creating a global gold mining behemoth with a focus on Africa and the Americas.

Mark Bristow, who founded Randgold more than two decades ago and became Barrick’s CEO after the companies combined, said in January that the industry has “too few assets with too many management teams” and is ripe for reorganisation.

Building the world’s largest gold miner was “the ultimate goal” of Barrick’s late founder. In recent years the company has struggled to keep pace as it dealt with debt issues by selling assets and seeking joint ventures.

Barrick and Newmont have adjoining assets in Nevada, and Newmont also has a 25% stake in Barrick’s Turquoise Ridge mine. The two companies have talked about how some sort of “unification” of their operations in the region could benefit them. Newcrest is focused largely on the Pacific Rim.

Newcrest, Australia’s top gold producer, is seeking to add more assets under a programme to improve its exposure to the industry’s best operations. Newcrest shares rose 0.6% in Sydney trading on Friday.
Bloomberg