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After years of solid consolidation activity among precious metal discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, things are starting to heat up in the northern climes.
NovaGold Resources (AMEX: NG ) , a former darling of the industry, fell off many Fools' radars after the financial crisis and related budget concerns abruptly halted its development activities. But the company has been grabbing headlines once again, now that well-known investors like George Soros and John Paulson have increased their positions in its stock.
This week, Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC ) ventured into Canada's Yukon Territory with an offer to acquire Canadian junior explorer Underworld Resources for $135 million in shares and cash. To acquire the 91.5% of Underworld shares that it does not already own, Kinross will issue 6.8 million new shares, representing about a 1% dilution of existing shareholders.
For their patience, Kinross shareholders will be rewarded with an attractive development prospect called White Gold, which has already identified an indicated resource of greater than 1 million ounces of gold. At the project's Golden Saddle deposit, ore grades look highly favorable for positive economic feasibility at 3.2 grams per ton.
At about $135 per indicated ounce, the acquisition cost may look fairly elevated in comparison to the $42 Kinross paid to Teck Resources (NYSE: TCK ) and Anglo American for their Lobo Marte project in Chile. But this Fool strongly suspects that Kinross sees potential for material increases in this project's scale before a feasibility study is released. After observing the cutthroat competition for promising resources exhibited between fellow majors Goldcorp (NYSE: GG ) , Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX ) , and Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM ) over recent months, major producers like Kinross have been placed on notice that the consolidation trend is ramping up anew. That means golden prospectors had better come often and early to the acquisition well.
A number of larger projects sitting beneath Canada's icy northern climes have yet to find deep-pocketed suitors. The largest of these, Seabridge Gold's (AMEX: SA ) infamous KSM property, can realistically only enter production if one of the elite group of major miners decides to take the multibillion-dollar plunge. Higher gold prices may ultimately provide the impetus, but in the meantime, Fools can expect consolidation to continue among smaller-scale mineral prospects.
I consider British Columbia a particular hotbed of attractive opportunities, and I'm preparing a Foolish survey of British Columbian assets that will warrant Fools' attention. In the meantime, your fellow readers consider your opinions more valuable than gold, so please share your views in the comments section below.