• Newcrest surges after Newmont, world’s largest gold miner, bids for Australia’s biggest gold producer
  • NCM was founded as a subsidiary of Newmont in 1966 before striking out on its own in 1990
  • Deal comes four

Australia’s largest gold miner, a mainstay of the listed large cap resources space for over three decades, could be reconsumed by its growth hungry founder in a $24 billion deal.

Formed in 1966 to separate the Australian assets of Colorado gold giant Newmont and known as Newcrest since a merger with BHP’s gold division in 1990, Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) announced today it had received a non-binding indicative proposal from Newmont.

Now the world’s largest gold miner after it reputedly pipped Newcrest to a merger with Canada’s Goldcorp in 2019, Newmont lobbed a bid of 0.38 shares for each share held by NCM investors on Sunday after an initial 0.363 for 1 offer was knocked back by NCM’s board.

NCM says the indicative proposal implies a current offer price of $27.16 per share, a 21% premium to its closing price of $22.45 on February 3 and 27% premium to the 30-day VWAP of $22.22 with an implied offer price of $28.32 on the VWAP.

Shares in the Australian miner, which would continue to be traded on the ASX in the form of Newmont chess depositary interests if the deal goes ahead, were up almost 10% on the news shortly after the market open.

Newcrest shares were up almost 8% year to date to Friday as gold prices ran hot in early 2023, a rally that came to a stall as bullion dropped below US$1900/oz Friday on a stronger than expected US jobs report. The data raised fears an end to the US rate hike cycle could be some time away.

But Newcrest is trading at almost half the $38.62 price of its five-year high in August 2019.

The burning questions now is whether Newcrest’s board, advised by JP Morgan and Gresham Advisory Partners along with lawyers Herbert Smith Freehills, finds the deal suitable to recommend to shareholders, and whether the world’s other major gold miners Barrick and Agnico Eagle see fit to bid in on the action.


Gold arms race

It is four and a bit years since the gold arms race at the top of the precious metals sector reared its head, when Newmont and Barrick secured respective deals for Goldcorp and Randgold.

A blistering takeover bid from Barrick for Newmont followed, something that was settled after the US miner agreed to JV the companies’ adjoining Nevada gold operations.

Barrick recently set up an office in Perth, signalling its intentions to revisit the Australian gold scene.

It comes several years after the twice bitten mining majors made moves to exit some, and in Barrick’s case all, of their Australian operations.

Barrick ran from Australia after the 2013 gold crash with its tail between its legs, selling the Plutonic, Kundana and Kanowna Belle mines at a pittance to Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) and the Cowal mine to Evolution (ASX:EVN).

The latter three were objectively embarrassing. Barrick received just $75m for Kundana and Kanowna Belle combined in 2014.

Bill Beament’s Northern Star used the acquisitions, along with the purchase of the Jundee mine from Newmont, to turn from a middle of the road former penny stock to become Australia’s second largest gold miner. It sold just the Kundana portion of the acquisition to EVN for $400m in 2021.

Northern Star, after a merger with Saracen Mineral Holdings, also picked up the iconic Super Pit and Mt Charlotte gold mines in Kalgoorlie, known formally as KCGM (Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines), from former JV partners Newmont and Barrick over 2019 and 2020.

Newmont has maintained a major interest in Australia, with Boddington in WA’s South West and Callie on the Northern Territory side of the Tanami Desert among the country’s five largest gold mines.


Dominant player

Should it acquire Newcrest, Newmont would add two other top-10 Australian gold mines to its portfolio, including the largest, the Cadia Valley mine near Orange in New South Wales.

Cadia, where Newcrest announced a $1.6b expansion last year, will produce 560-620,000oz of gold and 95,000-115,000t of copper in FY23 (311,456oz and 50,553t YTD), a large part of the NCM’s overall guidance of 2.1-2.4Moz gold and 135-155,000t copper.

It is also the largest gold producer in PNG, where its Lihir mine is expected to deliver 720-840,000oz in FY23 (319,386oz YTD), and British Columbia in Canada where Newcrest bought the Brucejack mine (320,000-370,000oz guidance, 135,936oz YTD) last year and boasts the Red Chris development.

Its Telfer mine in WA, where a highly anticipated underground development called Havieron is in the study phase, is expected to deliver 335,000-405,000oz gold and 20,000t copper in FY23 (172,357oz and 6218t YTD).

But the ageing Telfer, discovered in contested circumstances by Newmont in its first Aussie success story in the early 70s, has often struggled with low margins and only incremental life of mine extensions in recent years, with the Havieron JV with Greatland Gold expected to be a major reset of the operation.

Whether 6Mozpa Newmont likes all those assets remains to be seen. Led by Australian CEO Tom Palmer, Newmont hived off mines including its half stake in the Super Pit following the Goldcorp merger.

The offer comes with NCM in a state of flux after the retirement of long-term CEO and managing director Sandeep Biswas in December, with CFO Sherry Duhe in the hotseat as interim CEO since.

While major Aussie gold M & A has been quiet since Northern Star’s $16b Saracen merger, Canada’s Agnico Eagle became the world’s third biggest gold house with its takeover of Kirkland Lake Gold, owner of the Fosterville mine last year, and beat South Africa’s Gold Fields to the US$4.8b acquisition of Yamana Gold in a shared deal with Pan American Silver.

At the smaller end of the market, struggling Leonora gold miner St Barbara (ASX:SBM) is in the process of its merger with Genesis Minerals (ASX:GMD) which would see Genesis’ high profile boss Raleigh Finlayson emerge as the head of the new Hoover House.


Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) share price today:



What’s happening on the markets?

Newcrest shares were up 10.38% after revealing details of the premium bid as of 10.50am AEDT.

There was weakness across the rest of the gold sector in the wake of Friday’s US economic data, although $14.5b Northern Star and high-performing African gold miner Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU), were also up.

Given Newcrest’s $22b market cap, the Newmont bid played a big role in a 1.06% lift for the materials sector this morning, as the ASX 200 eked out a 0.06% gain.

Iron ore majors Fortescue (ASX:FMG) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) were also up more than 1%, with Champion Iron (ASX:CIA) up 1.53%.


Ground Breakers share prices today: