Gold producers eye Xanadu as Mongolia gets its act together
Australian gold producers are among a host of mining companies that have taken a close look at Mongolian explorer Xanadu Mines in recent weeks, with a shortage of new discoveries, improving appetite for acquisitions and recent policy stability in Mongolia putting the nation’s stalled mining industry back on track. Xanadu’s Ulaanbaatar-based managing director Andrew Stewart told The Australian the company had hosted five visits in the past two months from mining companies interested in learning about its early-stage copper and gold projects in Mongolia.
The level of interest is a sharp improvement on recent years, he said, when the company would host just one to two such visits a year. He said Australian goldminers in particular were showing renewed interest in Mongolia. “There are a lot of cashed-up mid-tier gold producers that are looking to expand,” he said. “When you look at Australia, there just aren’t as many options for those big discoveries.”
The interest in Xanadu comes amid a series of recent moves on early-stage discoveries by larger mining houses. Newcrest Mining was forced earlier this month to double the price of its proposed investment in a stake in Brisbane-based, London-listed explorer SolGold after a rival investment proposal from another group, while BHP Billiton subsequently approached SolGold with a $US305 million ($423m) offer that was ultimately rejected.
SolGold owns the promising Cascabel copper-gold discovery in Ecuador.
Similarly, High Power Exploration — a company backed by billionaire mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland — is building its position in the San Matias copper-gold project in Colombia through its joint venture with Cordoba Minerals. Mr Stewart said the SolGold and Cordoba deals were an indicator of the growing interest in exploration projects. “There’s a real lack of economic discoveries at the moment and certainly you can see that reflected in some of the M&A activity at the moment with SolGold and Cordoba,” he said.
Mongolia had been shaping up as a new global hotspot for mining activity, but its international standing suffered amid a series of disputes between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian authorities over the tax regime surrounding Rio’s massive Oyu Tolgoi copper deposit.