Diggers and Dealers, the mining sector’s annual get-together in the middle of the West Australian desert, doesn’t formally start until this morning but already the deals are flowing.
There has been a flurry of announcements in recent days as companies position themselves to fight for attention at what is shaping up as the biggest and most buoyant Diggers since the height of the mining boom. While former World Bank president and one-time US president trade adviser Robert Zoellick is scheduled to deliver this morning’s keynote address, the focus is on the backroom dealmaking.
Late on Thursday came the signing of a three-way transaction that will see one-time Philippine goldminer Red 5 snap up the Darlot mine from Gold Fields and the nearby King of the Hill deposit from the Kerry Stokes-backed Saracen Mineral Holdings for a combined total of $34.5 million in cash and shares.
On Friday, standout goldminer Evolution Mining unveiled a new $2.5m deal that will see it become the cornerstone investor in Riversgold, a new exploration venture headed by former Doray Gold boss Alan Kelly. The Evolution-Riversgold deal is the latest in a string of partnerships under which bigger cashed-up miners are bankrolling promising exploration work in a bid to have their foot on the next mineral discovery.
Another big gold producer, Northern Star Resources, got the ball rolling on Thursday when it announced a big new resource and reserve upgrade that has trebled the forecast mine lives of its operations.