The Gilded Growth of a Mid-Tier Miner

If the shoe fits, wear it proudly.

Eldorado Gold (NYSE: EGO  ) might come across as an odd name for a gold miner with operations focused in China and Turkey, but the Spanish term meaning "the golden one" is an apt moniker for this mid-tier miner with the golden touch for growth.

Eldorado earned a respectable $102.4 million for 2009; bolstered by stronger gold prices and record production in the fourth quarter that accounted for nearly one-third of the full-year total. Exhibiting Eldorado's core competency as "one of the world's lowest cost gold producers," the miner gave low-cost leaders like Goldcorp (NYSE: GG  ) and Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY  ) a run for their money with fourth-quarter cash costs of just $308 per ounce.

As commonly occurs during a major production growth spurt, those costs are seen rising to between $385 and $400 per ounce for the 550,000 to 600,000 ounces anticipated during 2010. However, the realization of growth spurts are commonly accompanied by offsetting reductions in operating costs associated with increased economies of scale. Accordingly, Eldorado estimates that costs will return to $325 or lower once the company approaches 800,000 ounces of annual production during 2011.

On the heels of that exciting all-stock acquisition of Sino Gold in 2009 (which added two producing mines in China and two strong development prospects), the takeaway here is that Eldorado is offering gold investors exposure to at least 120% of targeted production growth over the course of a rapid two-year growth spurt -- which I expect will coincide nicely with further advances in the long-term uptrend for gold prices. All the while, Eldorado expects production costs to remain within a range that the average producer would happily embrace. As long as Gold Fields (NYSE: GFI  ) can remain profitable digging deep for South African gold at a cost of $613 per ounce, the profitability prospects of lower cost operators remains cast in stone. Even Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX  ) , the world's largest producer, can not beat Eldorado's margins.

Investors have a wide array of solid growth prospects to choose from within the mid-tier segment of the gold patch. Rival IAMGOLD (NYSE: IAG  ) is eyeing an 80% growth spurt of its own, but expects costs to spike to around $500 per ounce in the interim. With the Cerro San Pedro mine recently cleared for the resumption of full operations, New Gold (AMEX: NGD  ) has a new lease on growth. Fools looking to hone in on the most promising growth story of all, however, are encouraged to take a long look at the golden one: Eldorado Gold.

One of Eldorado's principle development projects -- Perama Hill -- is located in Greece. Members of the Motley Fool Global Gains team are in Greece this week to report on the situation in real time. Because Greece matters to smart investors, click to this article and sign up for your free email dispatches from the Global Gains team throughout their pending trip.

Fool contributor Christopher Barker can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He owns shares of Eldorado Gold, IAMGOLD, New Gold, and Yamana Gold. The Motley Fool has a gilded disclosure policy.


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