UPDATE 2-Barrick sells Australian Cowal gold mine to Evolution for $550 mln

Mon May 25, 2015 12:02am EDT
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* Deal will boost Evolution's gold output to 800,000 ounce/year

* Evolution set to become Australia's No.2 gold producer

* Bankers say harder to find a buyer for Barrick's Porgera mine (Adds Evolution chairman, analyst comments)

By Sam Forgione and Sonali Paul

NEW YORK/MELBOURNE, May 25 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold , the world's top gold producer, has agreed to sell its Cowal mine to Evolution Mining for $550 million in a deal that will turn Evolution into Australia's second largest producer of the precious metal.

The deal gives Evolution a large, low-cost mine that will boost its output to around 800,000 ounces a year, around one-third the output of top Australian producer Newcrest Mining .

"This is a truly transformational acquisition for Evolution," Executive Chairman Jake Klein said after the deal was announced on Monday. "This is the high quality asset we have been looking for to cornerstone our business."

Barrick put Cowal up for sale along with its Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea, among other assets, in an effort to cut debt by $3 billion by the end of this year.

Analysts congratulated Evolution for snaring Cowal for well below the $650 million price tag it had been expected to fetch.   Continued...