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Crafting one amazing gold deal after another must now be viewed as the "new normal" for New Gold (AMEX: NGD ) .
After all, the company first launched itself into the golden spotlight in 2008, rather deftly I might add, with a watershed $1.6 billion business combination with two fellow junior gold miners. That transaction secured the three-mine operating footprint the company maintains today, and marked its arrival among the coveted group of midtier gold miners.
The following year saw a crafty strategic merger with Western Goldfields, for the prolific Mesquite mine in California. Goldcorp (NYSE: GG ) then came calling in 2010 to leverage New Gold's 30% stake in the El Morro project in Chile, mounting a masterful block of its rival Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX ) . For its trouble, New Gold scored a partner that will cover all mine development and construction capital (to be repaid from New Gold's share of proceeds after the mine commences production).
On Monday, New Gold announced a C$550 million (about $567 million) deal to acquire junior gold explorer Richfield Ventures (OTC: RCVTF.PK) and its sweet-looking Blackwater project in British Columbia, Canada. For those curious about this article's title, I characterized Blackwater as "new gold" because Richfield filed its initial resource estimate for the project only one month ago. With a total attributable resource of 3.83 million ounces of gold, including 1.83 million ounces in the indicated category, Blackwater has leapt onto the map of compelling Canadian development projects in similarly sudden fashion as New Gold's initial rise to stardom.
Valuing Richfield Ventures at $567 million, the deal implies a price tag of $310 for each gold ounce in the indicated category, and $148 per ounce for the total attributable gold resource. Fellow midtier star Gammon Gold (NYSE: GRS ) just acquired Capital Gold (AMEX: CGC ) for the equivalent of $280 per ounce of proven and probable gold reserves. However, because the total geological potential of a project is seldom fully reflected in an initial resource estimate -- a fact I recently encouraged Rubicon Minerals (AMEX: RBY ) investors to keep in mind -- direct comparisons of per-ounce transaction prices must be approached with caution. Underscoring the potential for dramatic expansion of the known resource at Blackwater, Richfield reported drill results subsequent to the release of the initial estimate that included a thick 145-meter interval grading 2.7 grams per ton. A 30,000-meter drill program is already under way for 2011.
Across its expanding portfolio of producing and pending gold mines, New Gold has amassed a glistening treasure of 8.4 million ounces of gold reserves. The Richfield acquisition brings the miner's measured and indicated resource (exclusive of reserves) to 6.3 million ounces. When you toss in the company's 2.9 billion pounds of attributable copper reserves, and 46.4 million ounces of silver, New Gold's $4.6 billion market capitalization appears to significantly understate the miner's sustainable access to profitable buried treasure. The stock has already surged more than 175% since I marveled at the miner's growth prospects early last year, and I expect the shares will continue to appreciate handsomely for quite some time to come.