By Nelson Banya
Gold Fields (GFIJ.J) and AngloGold Ashanti (ANGJ.J) are not considering a full-scale merger after they agreed to combine their neighbouring Tarkwa and Iduapriem mines in Ghana to create Africa’s biggest gold mine, the two companies said on Thursday.
Gold miners are increasingly looking to consolidate as they seek to replace depleting reserves and contain cost pressures.
Last month, U.S.-based Newmont Corp (NEM.N), the world’s top gold producer, bid $16.9 billion for Australia’s Newcrest Mining (NCM.AX), triggering speculation of a new wave of mergers and acquisitions in the industry.
When asked by reporters if a merger was under consideration, AngloGold CEO Alberto Calderon said: “We are in similar places around the world, but for now this is the thing we are focused on. We’re not going to entertain any speculation on that (a merger). There’s no conversation or anything of that sort.”
Calderon and Gold Fields interim CEO Martin Preece said on a conference call about their joint venture that they would explore other opportunities to maximise synergies where they arise.
The South Africa-headquartered AngloGold and Gold Fields are among the five biggest gold producing companies by output in the world, with operations in Africa, Australia and South America.
Calderon has previously said AngloGold prefers internal growth to acquisitions.
Gold Fields’ Preece, who last month said the company was no longer pursuing big M&A deals after its failed bid for Canada’s Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) said on the conference call “collaboration is easier”.
“I think it’s going to be asset-specific and opportunity-specific,” Preece said.
Gold Fields and AngloGold would own 60% and 30% of the joint operation, respectively, with the Ghanaian government holding 10%, Calderon said.
The joint venture would produce an average 900,000 ounces annually over the first five years and 600,000 ounces over its estimated 18-year life of the mine, the companies said.
“The proposed joint venture would create the largest gold mine in Africa and one of the largest in the world. It will be a high-quality operation, supported by a substantial mineral
endowment and an initial life spanning almost two decades,” the companies said in a joint statement.
The combined operation’s all-in sustaining costs (AISC), an industry measure, would be less than $1,000 per ounce for the first five years and less than $1,200 per ounce over the estimated life of mine.
Tarkwa produced 531,600 ounces in 2022 at AISC of $1,248 per ounce, while Iduapriem produced 248,000 ounces at a cost of $1,299 per ounce.
Apart from Tarkwa, Gold Fields has two other mines in Ghana, Damang and the 45%-owned Asanko. AngloGold also has another mine in Ghana, Obuasi, in addition to Iduapriem.