The Akyem mine began commercial production in 2023
The Akyem mine began commercial production in 2023

Chinese giants show interest in Akyem mine

The planned sale of the Akyem gold mine by Newmont is attracting interest from potential bidders, including Chinese miners, amid soaring prices of the yellow metal.

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Australian miner, Perseus Mining, has also expressed interest in acquiring the Akyem mine in Ghana after Newmont announced plans to divest it. Newmont is working with Citigroup Inc. on the disposal, and they have started making it known to prospective suitors.

Shandong Gold Mining Co. and Zijin Mining Group Co. are among the companies showing early interest in the asset. Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining Co. is also studying Akyem. Deliberations are at an early stage and prospective buyers could decide not to proceed with bids. Representatives of Newmont, Citigroup, Shandong Gold and Zijin declined to comment, according to sources.

The sale of Akyem is part of Denver-based 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 the Akyem mine, Newmont wants to sell four gold mines in North America and another in Australia.

The Akyem mine produced 420,000 ounces of gold a year at the end of 2022, the company’s website shows. The precious metal surged above $2,200 an ounce this week for the first time and it has rallied about 10 per cent in a month.

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 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.

Through this deal Perseus Mining could double its gold output. According to Newmont’s projections, Akyem was anticipated to yield 170,000 ounces in 2024. In the previous year, the mine produced 295,000 ounces, compared to Edikan's 202,599 ounces.

Newmont's presence in the country is expected to continue even after the sale of the Akyem mine. The American firm will retain its Ahafo South mine which yielded 581,000 ounces in 2023 and the Ahafo North mine, which is currently under construction.

Perseus also maintains operations in Côte d’Ivoire, where it operates the Yaouré and Sissingué gold mines. The President and CEO of Newmont, Tom Palmer, emphasised that the mines were being divested because they did not meet the company’s criteria of Tier-1 assets.

“We have a number of Tier-2 assets that are very good assets, run by very good people but that doesn’t meet our Tier-1 category,” he said.

Newmont’s financial results

The divestiture of the mining companies coincided with the release of Newmont’s 2023 full-year report, which detailed a strong outlook for the future following the acquisition of Newcrest last November.

The US gold giant produced 5.5 million gold ounces (moz) and 891,000 gold equivalent ounces from copper, silver, lead and zinc in 2023. The results are in line with Newmont’s revised guidance range following the inclusion of Newcrest’s assets.

Newmont generated $2.8 billion of cash from continuing operations and brought in $88 million in free cash flow. The company also delivered $1.4 billion in dividends to shareholders.

Losses and debts

However, the company’s net loss totalled $2.5 billion, which was driven by $1.9 billion in impairment charges, $1.5 billion in reclamation charges and $464 million in Newcrest transaction and integration costs.

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Despite this, Newmont declared an increase in total reserves and resources. It now has 136moz in reserves and 174moz in resources. “(The year) 2023 was a transformational year for Newmont, and for all of our stakeholders,” Palmer said.

“With the acquisition of Newcrest now complete, our principal focus for 2024 is to integrate and transform our leading portfolio of Tier-1 assets into a unique collection of the world’s best gold and copper operations and projects,” he said.

Newmont currently holds $8 billion in debt, so it has set a near-term debt-reduction target of $1 billion for 2024. The company has also identified an additional $500 million in cost and productivity improvements.

“With stable production and structured reinvestment throughout the year, we are strongly positioned to deliver on our commitments in 2024 and set the stage for meaningful growth in 2025 and beyond,” Palmer said.

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Newmont anticipates its 2024 production guidance to equal about 6.9moz for its total portfolio, which will be underpinned by 5.6moz from its Tier-1 Portfolio.

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