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Austin Powers had to travel back in time and go to the moon to get his mojo back. A couple of gold miners may not have to go to such lengths.
The mergers and acquisitions scene among miners of precious metals continues to sizzle, with African miners Randgold Resources (Nasdaq: GOLD ) and AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU ) completing their joint venture transaction announced last August to acquire all shares of junior Moto Goldmines. The joint venture controls 70% of the Moto gold mine in the Congo, with a Congolese government entity retaining 30%. Randgold Resources will take the lead as operating partner, and this week it announced its intention to fast-track the mine's development process.
At stake is an undeveloped gold resource that is considered one of the best on the entire African continent. Moto boasts more than 11.3 million ounces of indicated gold resources, and a further 11.2 million ounces in the inferred category. An existing feasibility study completed last March established economically viable ("probable") reserves of at least 5.5 million ounces, and Randgold has identified the completion of a second feasibility study as priority No. 1 (not to be confused with Robert Wagner's "No. 2," baby!).
Cruising along near 52-week highs, it may seem a stretch to suggest that Randgold and Anglogold have lost their mojo, but this Fool has expressed caution for both equities relating to their oppressive hedge books, and in the case of Randgold, some unfortunate additional exposure to auction rate securities. AngloGold Ashanti is a giant among South African miners, where the world's deepest gold mines and a nationwide electricity shortage leave operators rivals like Gold Fields (NYSE: GFI ) wishing they had an "easy button."
Unfortunately, the Moto mine will not be an easy button. Envisioned as a combined open pit and underground operation, the mine is characterized by Randgold CEO Mark Bristow himself as a "technically challenging gold deposit." With a solid track record of developing challenging mine sites, however, this Fool considers Randgold Resources fit for the task.
On the heels of a $465 million acquisition by Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX ) last week, this new completed joint venture provides further evidence of a precious metals consolidation trend that has certainly regained its mojo. With major miners like Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC ) and Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM ) sitting upon cash hoards and stated acquisitive intentions, this Fool anticipates that the most compelling undeveloped gold assets will continue to change hands at a healthy clip. For acquisition-friendly players like Seabridge Gold (AMEX: SA ) and NovaGold Resources, the result may be downright "groovy, baby ... yeah!"