AuRico Gold announced on March 27, 2012, an agreement to sell its Stawell and Fosterville gold mines in Victoria, Australia, to Crocodile Gold for total consideration of up to C$105 million in cash and Crocodile shares, and followed up with an announcement on April 15, 2012, of an agreement to sell its El Cubo silver-gold mine and Guadalupe y Calvo silver-gold development project in Mexico to Endeavour Silver for up to $250 million in cash and Endeavour shares.
In a third announcement, dated April 5, 2012, AuRico reported that commissioning of its Young-Davidson gold project in Ontario, Canada, was nearing completion and that the project’s first gold pour was expected to occur before the end of the month.
Crocodile Gold is a Canadian company with operating gold mines and a land package of more than 3,300 km2 in the Northern Territory of Australia. The company is currently mining a number of open-pits and is developing the Cosmo underground mine.
The Fosterville mine is located 20 km east of Bendigo, Victoria, and is the largest producing gold mine in the state. The Stawell mine is located in the town of Stawell, northwest of Ballarat in central Victoria, and is the second largest gold producer in the state. The acquisition of the two mines creates the potential for Crocodile Gold to become a 300,000-oz/y gold producer in 2013.
Crocodile Gold also expects the combination of the Cosmo, Fosterville and Stawell operations to create a support foundation for projects such as Union Reefs Underground and Maud Creek that it is developing. “Very important to the transaction is the wealth of knowledge and technical expertise that the Fosterville and Stawell teams bring to Crocodile Gold. Combined with the existing management group, the additional experience of operating similar-scale underground operations as our own should considerably de-risk our growth and help shape the future of our new company,” said Chantal Lavoie, Crocodile chairman, president and CEO.
Endeavour Silver has two producing silver-gold mines in Mexico, the Guanacevi mine in Durango state and the Guanajuato mine in Guanajuato state. El Cubo is a producing silver-gold mine located in the southeast part of the Guanajuato district, only 10 km from Endeavour’s Guanajuato mine. El Cubo produced 209,440 oz of silver and 4,543 oz of gold during the first quarter of 2012.
Guadalupe y Calvo is an advanced silver-gold exploration project located in the historic Guadalupe y Calvo mining district in Chihuahua state, approximately 300 km southwest of the City of Chihuahua. A preliminary economic assessment dated March 5, 2012, evaluated the potential for a combined open-pit and underground mine producing on average 968,100 oz/y of silver and 17,600 oz/y of gold for the first eight years of production. Endeavour plans to further explore Guadalupe y Calvo with additional drilling before re-assessing its mining potential.
“El Cubo’s proximity and similarity to, and potential synergies with, our Guanajuato mine, make El Cubo a logical and strategic acquisition for Endeavour that will have an immediate and sizable impact on our production, reserves and resources, with minimal or no dilution to our shareholders. We hope to replicate at El Cubo the same types of exploration and operational successes that we have engineered at our Guanacevi and Guanajuato mines,” said Bradford Cooke, chairman and CEO, Endeavour.
Following the divestiture of these assets and start of production at its Young-Davidson mine in Ontario, AuRico will have three operating properties: Young-Davidson; the Ocampo mine in Chihuahua, Mexico; and El Chanate mine in Sonora, Mexico. The Young-Davidson mine is expected to reach commercial production by the third quarter of 2012 and to ramp-up to more than 200,000 oz/y of production by 2015.
“The divestitures are consistent with AuRico Gold’s strategy of focusing on its large, low-cost, core assets in North America,” an AuRico company statement said. “AuRico Gold is now directing all of its attention to delivering value for shareholders from its three core operating mines, including Young-Davidson where first production is imminent, and its development pipeline in Mexico and Canada.”