Bankers and stock markets are signaling an upcoming wave of mergers and acquisitions among small and mid-sized miners, but financiers worry that companies have not learned from costly mistakes made in the last commodity boom.
In a “recycling of assets,” smaller miners bulked up in recent years as the world’s biggest operators sold a string of assets to repair debt-loaded balance sheets and ride out anemic prices.
“They’re not going to sit still,” said TD Securities deputy chair of investment banking, Rick McCreary, at a Toronto mining conference on Tuesday. “You’re going to see consolidation in the mid-tier and junior space to create platforms for growth going forward.”
In a push to improve its portfolio, Goldcorp Inc, the world’s No. 3 gold miner by market value, sold non-core mines in recent years, he said. That bolstered the smaller buyers: Tahoe Resources Inc, Primero Mining Corp, Leagold Mining Corp, and Peak Gold, later acquired by New Gold Inc.
Likewise, Australian producer Newcrest Mining Ltd sold assets that helped drive growth at Evolution Mining Ltd .
Some investors also point to outsized stock market gains by small gold miners, with promising deposits and developments, as a sign of upcoming deal activity.