|New government threat for Barrick/Goldcorp|
by Peter Koven, Financial Post
January 31st, 2013
The threat of resource nationalism never seems to go away. This week, the spotlight shifted to Barrick Gold Corp. and Goldcorp Inc. as the Dominican Republic’s Congress said it wants a “more favourable” contract on the Pueblo Viejo mine.
The announcement comes a mere two weeks after the US$3.7-billion mine reached commercial production. Barrick owns 60% of Pueblo Viejo, while Goldcorp owns 40%.
Greg Barnes, an analyst at TD Securities, noted that the Pueblo Viejo contract was just approved by the government in 2009. Under the existing contract and using a gold price of US$1,650 per ounce, he estimated that the Dominican will receive annual proceeds of US$300-million to US$400-million from the mine once a net profits interest royalty kicks in (which he expects in 2018).
Apparently the state wants more (and possibly sooner), which could be bad news for the two Canadian miners. If the tax rate on the mine was increased to 35% (from 25%) and the net smelter royalty was boosted to 5% (from 3.2%), Mr. Barnes wrote that his net asset value assumption for each company would drop by US40¢ to US50¢ a share. While that is not a large amount, a contract renegotiation would set another negative precedent for the industry. Pueblo Viejo makes up 13% of his net asset value for Barrick, and 11% for Goldcorp.
BMO Capital Markets analyst David Haughton wrote that the Pueblo Viejo contract is binding and cannot be changed unilaterally, but “clearly some discussions of the issues may unfold.”