(Bloomberg) -- Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd. is nearing a deal for Barrick Gold Corp.’s share of the Kalgoorlie Super Pit gold mine in Western Australia, according to people familiar with the matter.
Perth-based Saracen prevailed over a number of other bidders with an offer that values the 50% stake in the mine at about $750 million, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential matters. Talks could still fall apart and there is no guarantee a deal will be reached, the people said.
Spokespeople for Barrick and Saracen couldn’t be immediately reached for a comment.
Buying Barrick’s share in the giant operation in Western Australia will give Saracen exposure to an asset that was the country’s third-largest producing gold operation last year, according to industry researcher Surbiton Associates Pty. The site includes a 3.5-kilometer (2-mile) long open pit, an underground mine and processing facilities.
Barrick and its key rival Newmont Goldcorp Corp. are in the process of offloading unwanted mines after major acquisitions since 2018 that have reshaped the gold sector. Newmont, which holds the remaining 50% of the Kalgoorlie Super Pit, previously targeted $1.5 billion from asset sales, though has more recently cautioned that it is under no pressure to sell.
An earlier attempt by Barrick to sell its Kalgoorlie stake ended in 2017 when Shandong Tyan Home Co. said tighter controls in China on outbound investment meant it could no longer proceed with a proposed $1.3 billion deal.
Since then, the Kalgoorlie asset has experienced operational challenges, including rock falls in the open pit in 2018 that have crimped production. Output declined by a third in the nine months to Sept. 30 as costs rose 40%, Newmont said in a Nov. 5 filing.
The site is regarded as holding potential for further development of an underground mine and there are plans to continue gold processing into the 2030s. Barrick fielded inquiries from parties across Australia and Asia, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said in September.
Barrick Gold hired Credit Suisse Group AG in 2016 to advise it on Kalgoorlie.
(Updates with Barrick’s adviser in last paragraph.)
--With assistance from Scott Deveau and Vinicy Chan.
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