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Newcrest Mining Ltd. has reached a friendly arrangement to buy British Columbia gold miner Pretium Resources Inc. in a $3.5-billion deal that will see the Australian miner broaden its footprint in Canada considerably.

Newcrest said after the close of markets on Monday that is offering $18.50 in cash, or 0.8084 Newcrest shares, for each Pretium share it doesn’t already own. The offers represent a premium of 22.5 per cent compared to Pretium’s closing price on Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Melbourne-based Newcrest operates mines in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Canada and has a market value of US$15.3-billion. Newcrest already owns a 4.8 per cent stake in Pretium.

This is the second multibillion dollar gold acquisition in the Canadian gold sector in the past two months. Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. in Sept. offered more than $13-billion to buy Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd.

The global gold sector has been rapidly consolidating over the past few years, as investors push single asset miners to find suitors. Investors also want consolidation because there are far too many small and medium-sized companies seeking a dwindling pool of capital.

Vancouver-based Pretium owns and operates the Brucejack underground gold mine in British Columbia. Brucejack is prized for its high-grade gold, but because of its erratic geology, it has been a challenging asset to mine, with Pretium encountering grade and production shortfalls on several occasions.

Jacques Perron, chief executive officer of Pretium, urged shareholders to embrace the deal. “With this acquisition, Brucejack will join Newcrest’s portfolio of tier one assets, mitigating the inherent risks associated with ownership of a single-asset mining company, ‘’ he said in a statement. “Moreover, Newcrest has the financial means and the intention of maximizing the long-term potential of the Brucejack Mine.”

Newcrest has been slowly growing its presence in both Canada and in Canadian gold miners. Newcrest is the biggest shareholder in Vancouver-based Lundin Gold Inc., owner of the high grade Fruta del Norte gold mine in Ecuador. In 2019, Newcrest paid US$806-million for a majority stake in the Red Chris copper and gold mine, which is also located in B.C.

The deal must be approved by Pretium shareholders in a vote, with the threshold being at least two thirds of votes cast.

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