Among the gold mining titans, the long-term outperformer will not be determined by operating efficiency, ore quality, nor expertise in project planning and development.
While those metrics are all vitally important, the greatest reward to shareholders will be found in the major gold miner that is most adept at replacing production on the cheap through a combination of exploration and asset acquisitions. Throughout the extractive industries, this process is called pipeline development, and lately Goldcorp
As this new decade dawned, Goldcorp celebrated a successful defense of its home turf -- a 4.7 million-ounce gold-equivalent resource near its world-class Penasquito mine in Mexico -- from a series of counterbids from a joint venture that includes major rival Newmont Mining
This week, Goldcorp brazenly threw a wrench into Barrick Gold's
Goldcorp will advance $463 million to New Gold to exercise that right before transferring the stake to Goldcorp, and New Gold will receive a cool $50 million in cash for facilitating the deal. For proven and probable reserves of gold and copper that combine for a present market value of almost $19 billion, the acquisition price is a bargain no matter how you slice it.
El Morro, located in the vicinity of Barrick's world-class Pascua-Lama development project, enhances Goldcorp's geographical profile with another mining-friendly jurisdiction, and strengthens Goldcorp's already low cost profile with a gold project that is replete with another highly prized metal: copper.
Alongside quality intermediate producer Yamana Gold
Both through voluminous copper by-product at its new Chilean asset, and a treasure trove of silver by-product at (and nearby) flagship mines like Penasquito, Goldcorp is making an impressive run at extending its ability to produce sustained quantities of gold at some of the industry's lowest costs.
If gold prices are headed substantially higher, which this Fool considers a very safe expectation, then the asset purchases transacted during 2010 could easily determine which gold major will outperform its peers for years to come. Goldcorp has begun the year with an aggressive surge in this high-stakes game of survival of the fittest, cementing its position in this Fool's eyes as the richest major of them all.
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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 user name TMFSinchiruna. He tweets. He owns shares of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Kinross Gold, New Gold, and Yamana Gold. The Motley Fool has a gilded disclosure policy.