Goldcorp Guards the Golden Henhouse

If you're a chicken farmer, the last thing you want is a fox buying a chunk of adjacent farmland.

In an alternate universe where foxes can buy property, building a good fence might suffice to protect your livelihood. Here on Earth, though, the entrepreneurial farmer will take no chances and purchase the additional acreage himself, and this is precisely what gold farmer Goldcorp (NYSE: GG  ) intends to do.

With the role of the sly fox played by the tenacious Minera Penmont joint venture between rival Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM  ) and silver miner Fresnillo, Goldcorp is determined to protect its own backyard from an encroaching menace. Refusing to back down from a battle royal that has ensued over the Camino Rojo property belonging to explorer Canplats Resources, Goldcorp has raised its bid for a second time to match (and thereby quash) a counter-offer from the joint venture.

In the process, an initial offer of $225 million has been raised to more than $270 million. Using a 50:1 ratio of gold to silver, which remains conservative even with today's historically anomalous 65:1 spread, Camino Rojo contains a measured and indicated resource of 4.7 million gold equivalent ounces (GEOs) with a market value of $5.1 billion. Even Goldcorp's twice-raised bid still amounts to a bargain basement price of $58 per ounce of gold equivalent in the ground.  

Earlier in the year, I remarked at the undeniable bargain obtained by Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC  ) when it purchased the Lobo Marte project in Chile from Teck Resources (NYSE: TCK  ) and Anglo American for $42 per ounce of gold, and given the intervening increase in the price of gold, this deal falls right into the same ballpark. Since I don't expect either bidder to balk at this price, the bidding war may continue yet if Newmont and Fresnillo are determined enough to tread upon Goldcorp's turf.

The turf in question, near Goldcorp's flagship Penasquito mine in Mexico's Zacatecas state, is historically known more for its prolific silver production than gold. Accordingly, even Penasquito's 17.4 million ounces of gold are virtually dwarfed by gargantuan silver reserves of more than 1 billion ounces. With a silver lode of that magnitude, even the 25% share of production that belongs to Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW  ) is enough to vault the silver stream specialist into a nomination for the best stock of 2010. Even Royal Gold (Nasdaq: RGLD  ) is in on the Penasquito act with a royalty interest, but there's plenty leftover for Goldcorp.

This Fool is continuing to peruse potential ancillary targets in the Zacatecas region that might be prompting Newmont and Fresnillo to make such a forceful stand for this resource in Goldcorp's back yard. Stay tuned for more, as I'm guessing the final shot has yet to be fired in this battle for gold.

Gold is a hot topic on the blogs at Motley Fool CAPS. Join the free service today and see just how many Fools are taking the long view when it comes to investing in gold. The "Gold" tag at CAPS lists 46 potential investments, and you'll find Christopher's comments on most of them.

Fool contributor Christopher Barker can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly in the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He owns shares of Kinross Gold, Royal Gold, and Silver Wheaton. The Motley Fool has a gilded disclosure policy.


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