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Goldcorp takes Barrick's thunder as top gold miner by market cap

TORONTO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Goldcorp Inc has surpassed Barrick Gold Corp to become the world’s biggest gold miner by market capitalization, even though Barrick owns more mines and produces far more gold than its growth-focused peer.

Goldcorp has been creeping up on Barrick for years, but this is the first time the smaller producer has surpassed the longtime top dog, which is under pressure due to delays and rising costs at its massive Pascua-Lama project in South America.

“It’s not necessarily that Goldcorp is doing so well, it’s just that Barrick is doing so poorly,” said John Ing, president and mining analyst at Maison Placements Canada in Toronto.

Pascua-Lama, which is now expected to cost up to $8.5 billion to build, will be the most expensive gold mine ever constructed, he said.

“That, together with disappointing earnings reflecting a narrowing of margins, really deflated enthusiasm for the world’s so-called leader among the gold miners,” Ing said.

Barrick stock has fallen nearly 25 percent since the beginning of 2012, while Goldcorp stock has been buoyed by better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. Goldcorp is down 3.5 percent this year.

Goldcorp’s market cap was C$35.32 billion (US$35.47 billion) at the close on Tuesday, while Barrick’s market cap stood at C$35.30 billion. Newmont Mining Corp, the world’s second largest gold producer, is worth US$23.84 billion.

Goldcorp lags Barrick in output. Toronto-based Barrick expects to produce some 7.3 million to 7.5 million ounces of gold this year, while Vancouver-based Goldcorp plans to produce some 2.35 million to 2.45 million ounces this year.

Barrick, which fired Chief Executive Aaron Regent in June amid disappointment with the performance of the shares, also dominates on the operations front, with a stake in some 22 producing gold mines around the world.

Goldcorp, by contrast, holds a stake in 12 producing mines across the Americas, including the Pueblo Viejo joint venture in the Dominican Republic, co-owned and operated by Barrick.

Barrick’s shares were up 0.8 percent at C$35.55 on Wednesday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Goldcorp rose 1.1 percent to C$44.20.