The golden eagle was nearly wiped out in the United Kingdom by the early 19th century, and it remains a protected species there. On the North American continent, the birds have fared better. This week, in fact, an unusual pair of golden eagles -- though not the flying kind -- was observed interacting in Ontario.
Canadian junior gold miner Gold Eagle Mines, which trades on the Toronto exchange, recently announced a major strategic investment in which intermediate-scale miner Agnico-Eagle Mines (NYSE: AEM ) purchased more than 5.5 million shares of Gold Eagle at around $9 per unit, for a 7% stake in the company. In addition, the larger eagle received half as many warrants to purchase additional shares during the next 36 months at about $10 a stub.
Gold Eagle is an exploration-phase junior mining company that operates on what Agnico-Eagle clearly considers a promising gold-bearing property in the Red Lake region of Ontario. The region has yielded 20 million ounces of gold, and Goldcorp (NYSE: GG ) operates two mines there. Gold Eagle's primary focus is the Bruce Channel Discovery, and the infusion of $50 million in capital from this private placement is slated to fund underground exploration at the site.
As I see this through my Foolish lens, the share purchase is somewhat like a progress report for Agnico-Eagle. As I pointed out last month, the company has been rightfully focused on organic growth, pursuing development of four wholly owned projects simultaneously. If the company can spare $50 million for this investment, above and beyond a $550 million capital-expenditure budget and a $65 million exploration budget for 2008, that's a sign that cash is flowing nicely from the two operating gold mines. The company's balance sheet sports zero long-term debt and $294 million in cash. Combine all of that good news with this latest move, and this Fool will remain a bird watcher.