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Discussions from the Denver Gold Forum

Gold miners are looking for growth in all corners of the world.

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This fall we attended the Denver Gold Group's annual forum, an industry-sponsored conference that brings together companies, investors, and analysts. We had a chance to meet one-on-one with management from several of the gold mining companies we cover. Here we briefly summarize our key takeaways on several companies.

Barrick Gold's Greatest Opportunities Lie in the Americas
 Barrick Gold (ABX) is currently working on two massive projects: Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic and Pascua-Lama on the border between Chile and Argentina. CEO Aaron Regent commented on Argentina's new glacier bill, maintaining that Pascua-Lama is in compliance with provincial glacier regulations and that in Argentina it is the provinces that have jurisdiction over glaciers, not the federal government.

The Boddington Mine Ramp-up Will Determine Newmont's Near-Term Prospects
At the Denver Gold Forum,  Newmont (NEM) CEO Richard O'Brien cautioned analysts and investors that it's way too early to press the panic button on Boddington, given that it's a 20-plus year asset. In the latter part of 2010, Boddington has struggled with lower-than-expected ore grades, a strong Australian dollar, and higher mining costs. Unit costs have crept up each and every quarter since startup in the fourth quarter of 2009, which is the exact opposite of what we'd hope to see during a ramp-up phase.

Goldcorp Is a Fast-growing, Low-Cost Major Producer
We had a chance to discuss the Andean transaction with  Goldcorp's (GG) vice president of investor relations Jeff Wilhoit. Andean's principal asset is the Cerro Negro gold project in Argentina. Wilhoit called Cerro Negro a "Goldcorp-style mine" given its location in a safe jurisdiction, expected low cash costs and high throughput, and expected upside; Wilhoit said the deal was a "once-in-a-decade opportunity."

Eldorado Gold's Ventures off the Beaten Path Have Resulted in Low Costs and High Growth
 Eldorado Gold's (EGO) producing assets are located in China and Turkey, countries the majors have largely ignored. The company has assembled a portfolio of mines with low production costs and high growth prospects, thanks to its willingness to stray from the beaten path, discipline, patience, and size. Eldorado's experiences in Turkey and China have not been without wrinkles--permitting delays and the like have been all too common in both countries.

IAMGold's New CEO Was a Hot Topic of Discussion
 IAMGold (IAG) appointed Steve Letwin as the new CEO shortly before the Denver Gold Forum began. Letwin had recently served as an executive for  Enbridge (ENB), a large oil and gas pipeline operator. It seems that some investors are concerned with Letwin's lack of experience in the mining industry.

South Africa's "New Mining Code" Provides Additional Details for Harmony and Other South African miners, but Some Areas Remain Open to Interpretation
We had a chance to discuss South Africa's so-called "New Mining Code" with  Harmony (HMY) CEO Graham Briggs, which will impact not only Harmony but also players such as  AngloGold Ashanti (AU) and  Gold Fields (GFI). Despite the moniker, this is actually a periodic review of the already-established mining charter by the Minister of Mineral Resources. Mining companies are scored on various metrics, such as ownership by historically disadvantaged South Africans, elimination of hostels, procurement from Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) entities, workplace diversification at all levels, human resource development, community development, environmental protection, health and safety, and so on. The ultimate penalty for noncompliance is revocation of a company's mining license.

Elizabeth Collins does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.