The Newmont Akyem Mine
The Newmont Akyem Mine

Asante Gold bids for Newmont Akyem mine

Newmont Corporation’s Akyem gold mine is a target for Ghana-focused producer Asante Gold Corporation, which plans to bid for the asset against potential Chinese buyers this month.


“We expect to be part of this process,” Asante Gold Chief Executive Officer, Dave Anthony, said in an interview. “We see Akyem as a mine that we’re natural owners of.”

Asante’s plan follows calls from Ghana’s government for local ownership of Akyem after Denver-based Newmont launched a process to divest the asset earlier this year. President Nana Akufo-Addo said recently that the country is in talks with Newmont to give priority to Ghanaian investors and “ensure that our mineral resources better benefit the Ghanaian people.”

Asante, which owns two gold mines and six projects in Ghana, is headquartered in Vancouver but says that almost half its investors are from Ghana, including two state-owned sovereign wealth funds.

“We have a lot of government support and local financial support,” said Anthony, who added that the company is now in the process of determining its offer. “We see the opportunity to get significant support in Ghana to own it.”

Asante’s top two individual shareholders are based in the UAE. One is a wealth fund belonging to the Fujairah Emirate while the other — Emiral Resources — was founded by Boris Ivanov, who once headed the international unit of Russia’s Gazprom.

The company also has backing from Ghana’s Minerals Income Investment Fund, a government-owned fund that previously backed Asante’s acquisition of a local Kinross Gold Corp. mine in 2022.

“For us, co-investing in an asset such as the Akyem mine will be a valuable addition to our portfolio, as we aim to become Africa’s biggest sovereign minerals fund,” said MIIF Chief Investment Officer, Bubune Kofi Sorkpor, in an email to Bloomberg News.

The Akyem sale has also drawn interest from Chinese bidders including Shandong Gold Mining Co., Zijin Mining Group Co., and Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining Co., Australian miner Perseus Mining Ltd., said in February it will also consider the asset.

Opening bids

Newmont did not respond to requests for comment. Opening bids for the mine, which Mr Anthony said are due, come amidst soaring prices for bullion. Akyem produced 420,000 ounces of gold a year at the end of 2022, according to Newmont, the world’s largest gold producer. The precious metal surged to a fresh record on Tuesday and has rallied about 14 per cent this year.

The sale is part of Newmont’s effort to raise $2 billion in cash through divestitures in the wake of its acquisition of Newcrest Mining Ltd. in November. On top of Akyem, Newmont also wants to sell four gold mines in North America and one in Australia.

The Denver-based mining giant plans to divest some non-core assets and trim its workforce to reduce debt following its $17.14 billion purchase of Newcrest. The companies to be divested are three Canadian gold mines — Eléonore, Musselwhite and Porcupine — along with Cripple Creek & Victor in the United States (US), Akyem in Ghana and Australia’s Telfer mine.

The Akyem Mine in Ghana paid GH¢184.6 million to the government as a dividend for 2022, the amount representing the government’s carried interest in operating the mine.

The Regional Senior Vice-President for Africa, David Thornton, thanked the government for its continuous support of Newmont Africa’s Ahafo and Akyem mines and reiterated the company’s commitment to continuing responsible mining operations while looking to expand Newmont Africa’s work in Ghana with the Ahafo North project.

Gov’t gold programme

Newmont Africa was the first mining company to support the government’s gold-buying programme by selling 3,500 ounces of gold to the government through the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in May 2022.

An additional 22,500 ounces of gold were sold to the BoG in October and November 2022, making a total of 26,000 ounces of gold sold to the government in 2022.

Tier one assets

Newmont’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tom Palmer, said the company hoped to reduce its portfolio to exclusively “Tier one” assets, and that shift would require the sale of those companies.

It also plans to sell two “non-core” projects, Havieron in Australia and Coffee Gold in Canada. Perseus Mining has already expressed interest in acquiring the Ghanaian mine from the US-based company, according to the CEO of Perseus Mining, Jeff Quartermaine.

"We will certainly explore the opportunity," Mr Quartermaine said, adding that Perseus Mining possessed significant familiarity with the Akyem project, given its existing ownership of the Edikan Mine in Ghana. -Bloomberg

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