Newmont, New Money

Following a couple of early disappointments among second-quarter earnings from the gold patch, another banner quarter from Colorado's king of gold was just what the sector needed to welcome investors back to a sector safe from the vagaries of the U.S. dollar.

Just as results from Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX  ) and Agnico Eagle Mines (NYSE: AEM  ) may have rattled investors, along comes Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM  ) to reassure Fools that gold miners can indeed turn a profit.

Following up on an amazing first quarter, Newmont Mining reported a 123% year-over-year increase in adjusted earnings to $230 million. Though down slightly from the $933 per ounce realized last quarter, Newmont proved it can still be quite profitable, with an average sales price of $900.

The key metric for all the miners now is production cost, and Newmont successfully battled significant input cost pressures to achieve an average production cost of $440 per ounce. Costs were highest at Australian operations, averaging $565 per ounce for the four project areas, and reaching $860 per ounce at the Kalgoorie mine, compared to $494 the year before. The company did not indicate in the release whether these cost increases were related to disruptions of natural gas supply that are affecting Western Australia following an explosion and fire in June at an Apache (NYSE: APA  ) facility. Apache expects normal gas flow to be returned during August.

Speaking of power supply, Newmont brought its new 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Nevada into commercial production beginning in May. With an anticipated savings of $70 million to $80 million in gold production costs per year, Newmont joins Canadian rival Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX  ) in reaping the rewards of self-supplied power.

More exciting still, at a time when equipment manufacturers like Terex (NYSE: TEX  ) are experiencing long-term sales backlogs and miners like Taseko Mines (AMEX: TGB  ) are reporting long lead times, the fact that Newmont managed to commission a new mill at the Yanacocha mine in Peru -- on time and within budget -- is quite an accomplishment. As reported previously, the mill will improve gold recovery rates by 50% and silver recovery by 300% over the life of this world-class mine.

By virtue of all these accomplishments, Newmont Mining is this Fool's favorite large-cap gold miner.

Further Foolishness:

The "Gold" tag within the Foolish universe of Motley Fool CAPS lists 85 companies. Join the CAPS community to separate the Fools' picks from fool's gold. It's free and fun!

Fool contributor Christopher Barker captains yachts and writes about stocks. He can also be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He owns no shares in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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