Newmont sells NZ gold mine for $106 million

Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) has sold its only mine in New Zealand, the Waihi gold mine, to OceanaGold (TSX, ASX:OGC), the companies announced last Thursday. Under the deal, the Melbourne-based miner will pay the U.S. gold major US$101 million plus a $5 million contingent payment, and will also keep a 1 percent net smelter royalty for gold mined at a recent discovery, to a maximum of 300,000 ounces.

OceanaGold owns and operates New Zealand's largest gold mine, Macraes (Open Pit and Frasers Underground) and Reefton Goldfields, on the South Island. The Waihi mine is on the east coast of the North Island. The open-pit portion of the mine has been operating since 1998, while the underground part has been running since 2005. The operation is expected to average 100,000 ounces per annum through 2018, from the Correnso underground mine, at all-in costs of US$760 to $820 per ounce.

“We recently announced a mine life extension to the Frasers Underground Mine which combined with a weaker New Zealand dollar and lower fuel prices has enhanced the value of our Macraes operations," Mick Wilkes, OceanaGold's Managing Director and CEO, said in a statement. "We are investing in exploration along strike and underground at Macraes and believe there is good potential to underpin 3 to 5 years of steady operations producing around 150,000 ounces of gold per annum while generating material free cash flow. This combined with the proposed 2 Waihi transaction creates an attractive and profitable gold business in New Zealand that we believe will generate strong returns for years to come.”

Like most major gold miners, Newmont has been selling non-core assets to relieve its debt burden amid lower gold prices. That includes the September 2014 agreement with Fresnillo (LON:FRES) to divest its 44 percent stake in the Penmont joint venture in Mexico for $477 million. In 2014 Newmont also sold its Jundee mine in Western Australia to Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) for $81 million.

"Our stronger cash flow and non-core asset sales have allowed us to reduce net debt by $1.4 billion over the last year while funding our Merian project in Suriname and the Long Canyon project in Nevada. The first phase of development at Long Canyon will open a highly prospective new gold district that builds on our 50 years of expertise and infrastructure in Nevada," the company said in its last quarterly statement.

In the Australia Pacific region, Newmont also operates three gold mines in Australia: Kalgoorlie, Boddington and Tanami.

Waihi was in the news in 2012 when 28 miners had to be evacuated after a 35-tonne mining truck caught fire, trapping the men underground.