Gold miners insist they won't splurge despite price surge

(Reuters) - The world’s top gold miners sought to reassure investors on Monday that they’re not going on a spending spree despite surging gold prices boosting their shares and free cash flow.

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are seen in the vault of the branch office of precious metal trader Degussa in Zurich April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Miners are opting to give more cash back to shareholders rather than plotting takeovers which the market may disapprove of with the COVID-19 pandemic far from over.

“We don’t need to, and will not be, chasing volume,” Newmont Chief Executive Tom Palmer told the Gold Forum Americas conference. “In this current gold price environment we are actively assessing an increase to our sustainable dividend.”

Newmont’s annual dividend of $1 per share was based on a gold price of $1,200 per ounce. Gold was last trading at $1,887 per ounce.

Kinross reinstated its dividend last week, at 12 cents per share annualized, for the first time since 2013. “We think it’s a good starting point,” CEO Paul Rollinson said at the conference.

Newcrest Mining targets a dividend payout of at least 10% to 30% of free cash flow.

“Having a lot of gold won’t create value unless you can achieve strong margins from its extraction,” said Newcrest CEO Sandeep Biswas.

Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow said the industry needs further consolidation but sought to reassure investors he saw no imminent deals.

“Wherever we see opportunities to add to our Tier 1 portfolio, we’ll be right there in front of the queue,” he said, but added: “The most important thing is exploration and organic growth.”

Barrick will publish a formal dividend policy early next year.

Sibanye-Stillwater would like to increase exposure to gold but it’s a “difficult time to do anything,” Chief Executive Neal Froneman said.

“We don’t anticipate major M&A announcements,” Credit Suisse analyst Fahad Tariq said on Friday. Site visits remain difficult and companies are wary of repeating past mistakes, he said.

Reporting by Helen Reid and Jeff Lewis; editing by Jonathan Oatis