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Goldcorp Inc. shareholders have voted decisively in favour of the company’s US$10-billion acquisition by Newmont Mining Corp., removing one more roadblock in what would be one of the biggest deals in the history of the gold sector.

Shareholders met in Vancouver on Thursday with more than 97 per cent voting in favour. The threshold for a successful outcome was at least two thirds of votes cast.

On April 11, Newmont shareholders will weigh in on the transaction in what will be the final major hurdle. Goldcorp shares rose by 1.8 per cent on Thursday to close at $15.63 apiece on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

If the deal closes, Colorado-based Newmont will overtake Barrick Gold Corp. to become the biggest gold company in the world by market value, production and reserves. The transaction is projected to be the second biggest deal in history in the gold sector. The biggest was Barrick’s US$10.4-billion acquisition of Placer Dome Inc. in 2005.

Newmont’s pursuit of Goldcorp was extraordinary from the start. Not long after the deal was announced in January, Barrick made a hostile US$17.8-billion push for Newmont, jeopardizing Newmont’s quest for Goldcorp. But even after Barrick subsequently dropped its bid for Newmont, a compensation controversy blew up that cast further doubt on the success of the Goldcorp deal.

Last month, Goldcorp announced that Ian Telfer, its long-time chair, will be entitled to a US$12-million cash retirement payment if the deal closes. The windfall payment – up almost three-fold from a prior arrangement, angered some shareholders, especially considering Mr. Telfer agreed to sell Goldcorp with its stock near a historic low.

In the aftermath, Mr. Telfer agreed to give up his seat on Newmont’s board after the deal closes. Newmont also encountered resistance among some of its shareholders with Van Eck and Paulson & Co. arguing that it was overpaying for Goldcorp. Subsequently, Newmont agreed to pay a special dividend worth US$470-million to stakeholders.

Doug Groh, portfolio manager with Tocqueville Asset Management, which owns shares in Newmont, likes the global diversification that the Goldcorp acquisition will bring to Newmont’s portfolio. In addition, he thinks Goldcorp will benefit from Newmont’s technical expertise.

“Clearly Goldcorp needs some help,” he said in a recent interview.

Just over three years ago, Goldcorp was the most valuable gold company in the world. But after a series of missteps, including flawed acquisitions, and execution problems at a number of its biggest mines, many investors lost faith in the company and the share price collapsed over the past few years.

The Goldcorp acquisition is the second huge transaction in the gold sector in the past six months. In January, Barrick closed its US$6-billion zero-premium acquisition of African operator Randgold Resources Ltd.